from its grand axial boulevards to the candy-colored interiors of brand new theaters, the architecture of north korea resembles an imposing stage set. after its capital, pyongyang, was erased by bombing during the korean war, the city was completely rebuilt in line with the vision of the nation’s founder, kim il-sung. 65 years later, construction is progressing at an unprecedented rate under kim jong-un, who — with slogans like ‘let us turn the whole country into a socialist fairyland’ — continues to use architecture as a way to assert power and control.

inside north korea oliver wainwright
changgwang health and recreation complex
image © oliver wainwright, courtesy of taschen

 

 

in a new book published by taschen, journalist oliver wainwright offers a rare glimpse of the ‘hermit kingdom’. titled ‘inside north korea’, the book takes readers on an architectural journey behind the closed doors of the world’s most secretive country. ‘my photographs are an attempt to offer a glimpse inside north korea, revealing pyongyang to be a place of candy-colored apartment buildings and pastel-hued interiors — a series of precisely composed stage sets that could be straight out of a wes anderson movie,’ wainwright explains.

inside north korea oliver wainwright
changgwang health and recreation complex
image © oliver wainwright, courtesy of taschen

 

 

paired with insightful captions, around 300 photographs illustrate the scenes that exist behind the country’s grand stone façades. starting with a documentation of pyongyang and its housing, the book highlights north korea’s gargantuan monuments, its sporting and cultural venues, and its grandiose metro network. throughout, lavish wonder-worlds of marble and mosaic exist alongside interiors with dazzling color palettes.

inside north korea oliver wainwright
changgwang health and recreation complex
image © oliver wainwright, courtesy of taschen

 

 

the book also includes an introductory essay where wainwright charts the history and development of pyongyang. the essay explains how the architecture and interiors embody the nation’s political ideology and question what the future holds for the architectural ambitions of the enigmatic country. ‘inside north korea’ is available via taschen’s website.

inside north korea oliver wainwright
the recently renovated support rooms of the rungrado may day stadium
image © oliver wainwright, courtesy of taschen


the planetarium at the three revolutions exhibition park, a grand expo campus built in 1992
image © oliver wainwright, courtesy of taschen

inside north korea oliver wainwright
cylindrical apartment towers line down the 4km-long avenue of kwangbok street
image © oliver wainwright, courtesy of taschen

inside north korea oliver wainwright
the arch of triumph is modeled on paris’ arc de triomphe
image © oliver wainwright, courtesy of taschen

inside north korea oliver wainwright
the breakfast buffet in the koryo hotel could be straight from a wes anderson film set
image © oliver wainwright, courtesy of taschen

inside north korea oliver wainwright
begun in 1987 but still unopened, the ryugyong hotel was intended to house 3,000 bedrooms
image © oliver wainwright, courtesy of taschen

inside north korea oliver wainwright
the north korean capital stretches out as a pastel-colored panorama
image © oliver wainwright, courtesy of taschen

  • The author keeps on referring to everything as being out of a Wes Andersen film set. Who is Wes Andersen and what are his film sets like?

    John Wayland says:

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