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These Instagram Videos From North Korea Are Surreal

The rest of the world gets a rare, 15-second video glimpse into the guarded culture of North Korea.

1. North Korean woman adds up the restaurant receipts while military videos play on the TV behind the counter.

As the only western media organization with a bureau in North Korea, the Associated Press has been documenting the cautious and isolated culture of the country with photos on Instagram since earlier this year.

On their most recent trip to Pyongyang, bureau chief Jean Lee and David Guttenfelder, chief AP photographer in Asia, decided to update their apps and start posting videos to document the 60th anniversary celebration of the armistice that halted the Korean War and show the culture of the mysterious city.

“I shoot them on my iPhone or iPod touch and can post to Instagram on the local 3G network,” Guttenfelder says. He’s posted about a dozen videos himself so far, and says that he’ll be posting new ones everyday while in DPRK.

3. Giant turtle swimming in the fish tank in the lobby of the Yanggakdo hotel in Pyongyang.

4. Pyongyang at night. Guttenfelder’s first video.

5. This is the North Korea national highway.

6. Roadside propaganda next to a construction site in Pyongyang.

7. North Korean schoolgirls on a bench outside a mausoleum where the bodies of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie.

8. The kids pose for a photo outside the masoleum.

9. This is what’s on TV tonight in North Korea.

10. Sunday morning programming on State TV showing Korean War footage on state TV, including U.S. bombing raids.

11. Opening night at the 60th anniversary celebration of the end of the Korean war.

12. North Koreans are apparently awesome at twirling ribbons.

CORRECTION: North Korean performers in the video above appear to be using ribbons. An earlier version misidentified the activity. (7/25/13)

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