A Wiganer’s view from North Korea

Pictures of North Korean life taken by Dylan Harris
Pictures of North Korean life taken by Dylan Harris

The alarming sabre-rattling involving North Korea may be filling headlines - but a Wigan exhibition aims to show a more complex picture of the secretive state.

Dylan Harris from Lupine Travel has been making trips to North Korea for around a decade and is bringing an incredible collection of objects from the country to The Old Courts.

The world is currently watching the region with bated breath after US president Donald Trump threatened “fire and fury” against North Korea over its military rhetoric, with the country’s regime in turn claiming to be able to hit the US territory of Guam with a missile.

The build-up in tension between the Stalinist state’s leader Kim Jong-un and the White House has reinforced outside perceptions of the totalitarian regime as dangerous and obsessed with war and arms.

However, the exhibition at the Crawford Street venue will combine propaganda and posters produced by the state with Dylan’s own photographs of everyday life in North Korea.

He hopes this will enable people in Wigan to see the aspects of the country he has repeatedly visited which rarely make it into the international headlines.

Dylan said: “North Korea is a country that has been almost completely sealed to outside influence and access for over 65 years, it’s a mystery for most of the outside world.

“Through my multiple visits there over the past decade, I’ve collected a variety of objects from across the country, from artwork, books, music, photographs and more.

“The only image in the West that we see of North Korea is that of a militaristic society and the regime. But it’s also a country rich in its own culture and full of warm friendly faces.

“The aim of the exhibition is to give a glimpse inside this society, to give a fuller picture of how it really is, including the human side of its people who are so often ignored by the West.”

The exhibition will run throughout September in the art gallery at The Old Courts and is expected to draw interest from far and wide.

The photographs taken by Dylan include images associated with North Korea, such as mass-participation cultural displays, alongside more unusual ones showing intimate portraits of the country’s people and snapshots of ordinary life.

Dylan’s trips to the country, and Lupine’s tours there, have unwittingly made him something of an expert and thrust him into the national media limelight when the closed state has been in the news.

He has previously said the outbreaks of aggressive language from Pyongyang, including threats aimed at neighbouring South Korea, have had a mixed effect on Lupine’s tours with some people expressing security concerns but others having their curiosity peaked.

North Korea: An Exploration is at The Old Courts in September.

For more information visit www.theoldcourts.com