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Inside North Korea

60Edition: Multilingual (English, French, German)Availability: September 7, 2024
Offering a rare glimpse inside the Hermit Kingdom, Guardian journalist and photographer Oliver Wainwright takes us on an architectural journey behind closed doors in the world’s most secretive country. From the mosaic-lined lobbies of Soviet-era health centers to the candy-colored interiors of brand new theaters, his photographs shine a spotlight on the reclusive regime’s ambition to “turn the whole country into a socialist fairyland.”
Hardcover8.3 x 10.8 in.3.52 lb240 pages
“My photographs are an attempt to offer a glimpse inside North Korea, revealing Pyongyang to be a place of candy-coloured apartment buildings and pastel-hued interiors—a series of precisely composed stage sets that could be straight out of a Wes Anderson movie.”
Oliver Wainwright
Inside North Korea

Inside North Korea


Pastel Dreams

The powerful architecture of North Korea

Erased by bombing during the Korean War, North Korea’s trophy capital of Pyongyang was entirely rebuilt from scratch from 1953, in line with the vision of the nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung. Designed as an imposing stage set, it is a place of grand axial boulevards linking gargantuan monuments, lined with stately piles of distinctly Korean flavor, to be “national in form and socialist in content.”

Under the present leader, Kim Jong Un, construction has ramped up apace—“Let us turn the whole country into a socialist fairyland,” declares one of his official patriotic slogans. He is rapidly transforming Pyongyang into a playground, conjuring a flimsy fantasy of prosperity and using architecture as a powerful anesthetic, numbing the population from the stark reality of his authoritarian regime.

Guardian journalist and photographer Oliver Wainwright takes us on an eye-opening tour behind closed doors in the most secretive country in the world, revealing that past the grand stone façades lie lavish wonder-worlds of marble and mosaic, coffered ceilings, and crystal chandeliers, along with new interiors in dazzling color palettes. Discover the palatial reading rooms of the Grand People’s Study House, and peer inside the locker rooms of the recently renovated Rungrado May Day Stadium, ready to host a FIFA World Cup that will never come.

This collection features about 200 photographs with insightful captions, as well as an introductory essay where Wainwright charts the history and development of Pyongyang, explaining how the architecture and interiors embody the national “Juche” ideology and questioning what the future holds for the architectural ambitions of this enigmatic country.
The author

Oliver Wainwright is the architecture and design critic at The Guardian. Trained as an architect, he worked for OMA in Rotterdam and for the Mayor of London’s Architecture & Urbanism Unit. He is a regular visiting lecturer at a number of architecture schools, including Harvard, Yale, and the Architectural Association. He has written extensively on architecture and design, and has served as curatorial advisor to the Architecture Foundation in London. His photographs have been exhibited internationally and are regularly used to illustrate his articles.

The editor

Julius Wiedemann studied graphic design and marketing and was an art editor for newspapers and design magazines in Tokyo before joining TASCHEN in 2001. His titles include the Illustration Now! and Record Covers series, as well as the infographics collection and books about advertising and visual culture.

Inside North Korea
Hardcover21 x 27.5 cm1.59 kg240 pages

ISBN 978-3-8365-7221-7

Edition: Multilingual (English, French, German)
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4 Ratings

Beautiful, high-quality book

Brian,November 6, 2021
This is a very beautiful hardback book. The quality of the photos is excellent. Really interesting look into North Korea!

Loved the Photos

Brandon,October 27, 2021
Great coffee table book and regularly intrigues guests. Very wide range of high-quality photos.

So unusual

Anthony D.,October 27, 2021
This book is fascinating in its rich detail. As a thoroughly Western individual I have simply never seen terrain of its like. It is both weird and enthralling at the same time. The world in this book is clean, sterile almost, and bereft of advertising hoardings or logos, just walls and windows, sky and land. So fascinating. It is a place that I visit regularly but have never set foot there. To see these profound photographs is enough. A wonderful book. A+++

Morgan C.,September 15, 2023
Lovely book