Hard labor
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Glimpses of a Hermit Nation

Hard labor
Women work on a World Food Program project in Chongjin, an industrial port town in northeastern North Korea. (Gerald Bourke / World Food Program)
‘Ghost town’
Most of the housing in Chongjin are row houses or whitewashed cinderblock apartment buildings like these, built after the United States bombed the city during the 1950-51 Korean War. The local power plant operates at about 25% of capacity, so when dusk falls, swaths of the city vanish into darkness. ()
Safe in Seoul
As a physician in North Korea, Kim Ji Eun would see malnourished children being killed by minor colds. “They would look at you with these big eyes,” she said. “Even the children always knew they were dying.” (Jean Chung / For The Times)
Public works
North Koreans in Chongjin toil on a sewage project funded by the World Food Program. (Gerald Bourke / World Food Program)
To market
Women haul wood to one of the illegal markets that have sprung up around Chongjin. (Rescue the North Korean People)
Rare sight
Sporadic electricity means Chongjin’s trams don’t run often. Most people get around by foot. (NK.WALKER.JP)
People sleep in front of the Songpyong train station in Chongjin. (NTV)
Makeshift eatery
Women have set up shop on vacant lots, cooking over charcoal stoves. (Rescue the North Korean People)