• Photographer Xiaolu Chu was able to smuggle images of everyday rural life out of the small town of Tumangang, North Korea (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
A photographer has captured compelling scenes of everyday life in North Korea.
Bianca Soldani

25 Apr 2016 - 11:56 AM  UPDATED 25 Apr 2016 - 12:03 PM

In North Korea, photo taking is a strictly monitored affair.

Foreigners are able to capture snaps of public tourist sites as a momento of their stay, but photography of anything else - including roads, bridges, airports, rail stations, soldiers and even citizens without express permission - can be perceived as espionage, and see cameras confiscated and the photographer potentially detained.

Evidence of poverty or scenes that could create a negative perception of the state are also banned, meaning most of the images the world sees of the reclusive country are the highly monitored ones out of the capital Pyongyang.

But thanks to an unexpected turn of events, a China-based photographer has afforded a rare glimpse into the more everyday life of the North Korean people away from the harsh scrutiny of customs guards.

Xiaolu Chu was travelling from Moscow to Pyongyang when his train was stalled in the border town of Tumangang, in the country’s north.

Making the most of the opportunity, he captured compelling images of impeccably dressed school children, humble rural homes and the dirt streets of the town on his phone.

Although his devices and DSLR camera were checked, Mr Chu was able to hide these photos from security on his way out of the country.

However now that the scenes have been published, Mr Chu says he will not be returning to the country for safety concerns.