With a US soldier crossing the border from North Korea in the border town of Panmunjom and in custody this week, talks turn to the nation itself – a country known for its distrust of foreigners but which also rejects frequent descriptions of it as reclusive.
In some ways, North Korea is a nation like many others; it’s also definitely its own thing, sometimes surprisingly different from the rest of the world.
For six years, until his death in 2019, longtime Associated Press Asia correspondent Eric Talmadge served as the news agency’s Pyongyang bureau chief. In this role, with unusual regular access for a Western journalist, he wrote numerous stories that explored the nation’s culture, politics and economy under third-generation leader Kim Jong Un.
As the drama around the American soldier unfolds, here’s a selection of Talmadge’s AP coverage that lifts the curtain on a society few in the world see.
— The real revolution in North Korea is the rise of consumer culture.
– This AP word cloud reveals the patterns of North Korean propaganda.
“Yeah, maybe the canned soup goes to the North Korean air force.
— With its limited options, North Korea is lit by flashlights and a creaking grille.
— First person: what the Pyeongchang Olympics might feel like to a North Korean.
— North Korean Economics 101: How much is a dollar worth?
— Postcard from Pyongyang: The airport now has Wi-Fi, of sorts.
— K-pop and fancy sneakers: the cultural revolution of Kim Jong Un.
— The Swedes are preparing a room for the American diplomats in Pyongyang.
— The construction boom in North Korea could build more than a horizon.
— North Korea is learning to embrace its domestic consumer.
— The tallest empty hotel in the world lit up by North Korean propaganda.
Additionally, former AP Pyongyang photographer Wong Maye-E shot this series of portraits of North Koreans that offer insight into the country’s people and culture.
Find more AP North Korea news here. To see Instagram images of Talmadge from North Korea, click here.