3D Project | Look into the World’s Most Isolated Nation

Unprecedented access to North Korea allowed Slovenian photographer, Matjaz Tancic, to launch his 3D photo project 3DPRK.

X-ray doctor of mammography, maternity hospital oncology centre. Photo: Matjaz Tancic

With a previous award in the 3D category at the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards, the Beijing-based photographer installed this collection with just 66 photo slides and a simple plastic 3D viewer. 

Tancic’s partnership with the North Korean cultural exchange organization, Koryo Studio, gave him a rare window into the lives of regular people who are underrepresented on a global scale. 

In regards to working in North Korea, Tancic says,

“You always have two guides with you.

You can take private tours and visit locations you really want to see, but even these tours are quite curated.” 

Basketball students, Kaesong Schoolchildren’s Palace. Photo: Matjaz Tancic
Worker at Folk Park Pyongyang. Photo: Matjaz Tancic

According to Tancic, "it then took eight months to get all the permissions and fix all the locations we wanted to see.

I selected locations where I knew we would be able to see people, and locations that had only been recently opened [to foreigners] so we could get the most exclusive view of the country possible."

Within a couple months of initial publication in 2016, 3DPRK’s first 1,000 copies sold out, winning praise from photography curator Simon Baker.

In 2018, Tancic released a second edition which included 10 new 3D slides.  

Water regulator, Chonsamri Co-operative Farm. Photo: Matjaz Tancic
Electricity and fertiliser workers, Hungnam Fertiliser Factory. Photo: Matjaz Tancic

Tancic’s collection of images has been exhibited in Hong Kong, New York, Russia, France, and Switzerland, amongst other places. 

When asked why he chose this project in particular, Tancic said:

“Because nobody knows much about North Korea, and even less about its people.

"You always just hear the stereotypes about how brainwashed they are or even the completely opposite propaganda from the government about how brilliant everyone is.

So I wanted to discover what these people are really like and make this a very personal project," says Tancic.

Swimmer, Munsu Wading Complex. Photo: Matjaz Tancic
Cleaner, Singhungsan Hotel, Hamhung. Photo: Matjaz Tancic

In exploring these glimpses of North Korean citizens, Tancic attempted to capture real moments of the

people with the least personal agency on Earth – decision-making at most levels of their lives is governed by the politics and principles of the state.”

Ranging from images of farmers to students to professionals, Tancic represents different occupations, statuses, and ages.

He hopes his images connect the identity of the North Korean people to anyone, anywhere in the world. 

Accordionist and singers, Cholima Steelworks

*partially sourced @ www.scmp.com

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