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Ra In Hae, 46, sits in her new home after her old house was damaged by flooding, near Rason. Portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il hang on her wall.
Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

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Photos: a rare look at daily life in North Korea’s impoverished rural northeast

Images of that area and in this time of year give a different glimpse into the reclusive country.

Most North Korean propaganda photos show its capital, Pyongyang, in the throes of military celebration, with tanks rolling down its streets and people cheering.

That’s what makes the recent photographs by AFP’s Ed Jones so striking. Jones traveled to the northeastern part of the country in late November and photographed North Korea’s rural and agricultural areas.

Pyongyang officials usually restrict foreigners to photographing these areas during the summer, when the weather is better and the fields are green and full of crops. These photos, however, provide a rare look at the everyday life of North Koreans during the winter months.

They show just how impoverished the area is, and are a stark reminder of the widespread poverty and hunger many North Koreans suffer under the brutal rule of Kim Jong Un, who has been in power since December 2011. The CIA ranks North Korea as one of the world’s poorest countries, and its people live on about $1,700 a year.

Forty percent of North Korea’s population lives in rural communities.

This and all subsequent photos by Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Cars are still pretty rare in North Korea. Many people use bicycles.

North Korea is sometimes known as the “frozen land,” where the temperature can drop well below zero.

About 21 percent of North Korea’s 25 million people are under the age of 14.

The government’s propaganda reaches even the farthest corners of the country.

Rural communities, like this area between Hongwon and Riwon, are bleak in the winter.

Many North Koreans still rely on traditional farming practices to live.

North Korea shares an 880-mile-long border with China, which accounts for about 80 to 90 percent of North Korea’s trade.

And this photo is just really cool.


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