Tuesday 13 May 2014


Above the Line: People and Places in the DPRK (North Korea) was unveiled todayat the British Council’s headquarters in London and will run until 25 July. Comprising 80 large-scale colour photographs by the acclaimed photojournalist Nick Danziger, the exhibition sets out to provide a view of the people and the country with the aim of informing future discussion about this isolated state.

The exhibition shows people doing ordinary things – women bathing in the sea, a man waiting at a tram stop, students walking down the street – as well as less ordinary sights such as a much-decorated hero of the Korean War on his way to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in his Mercedes; dancers practising in the car park before a performance at the Arirang Games; and a glimpse into the routines of workers on a collective farm. Debate about North Korea often centres around the idea of it as an abstract, geopolitical entity – a land of incomprehensible systems and beliefs. Danziger’s photos show another side to the story. Visiting the cities of Pyongyang, Wonsan, Nampo and Sariwon, he focuses on individuals,  so that a picture emerges of people whose pleasures are not all that different from people elsewhere, however bizarre and limiting their circumstances appear to us.

The exhibition is accompanied by a full-colour catalogue with an expanded selection of photographs, and profiles of 12 individuals by the writer Rory Maclean. Notes on the 150 photographs provide commentary on life and culture in North Korea, and include translations of all the Korean text seen in the images.

The exhibition was commissioned by the British Council as part of a programme to increase people-to-people dialogue between the UK and North Korea. Nick Danziger, Rory MacLean, and Andrea Rose, Director of Visual Arts at the British Council, travelled to North Korea at the invitation of the DPRK authorities in August 2013 and, while accompanied by officials, were given exceptional access to individuals and places.

Andrea Rose says: ‘North Korea invariably arouses strong reactions. Few foreigners can visit the country, and few North Koreans can travel abroad. Gaining greater knowledge on either side can only be of value in beginning the dialogue between people.’ 

Guided tours of the exhibition will take place on Fridays at 1pm.  

Notes to Editor

For more information about the exhibition please visit www.britishcouncil.org/visualarts

The UN Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea states:

'The commission of inquiry recommends that States and civil society organizations foster opportunities for people-to-people dialogue and contact in such areas as culture, science, sports, good governance and economic development that provide citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with opportunities to exchange information and be exposed to experiences outside their home country. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other States should remove applicable obstacles to people-to-people contact, including measures that criminalize travel and contact to the extent that these are not in accordance with relevant obligations under international human rights law.'

For the full text of the report, visit: http://bit.ly/M6b37J


Above the Line: People and Places in the DPRK

13 May - 25 July

British Council

10 Spring Gardens

London SW1A 2BN


For press information, interview opportunities and images please contact:
Mary Doherty, Arts Press Officer
T. +44 (0) 207 389 3144
E. mary.doherty@britishcouncil.org  

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