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January 29, 2013

North and South Korea

January 26, 2013

There are parts of the planet that are hopelessly poor. North Korea should not be one of them. Sitting at the crossroads of one of the most economically dynamic regions of the world, the dismal state of decay that this country currently finds itself is not a product of poor geography, but of decades of maligned politics and policies.

When stepping off the Tupolev Tu-154 and onto the tarmac at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, the impression is an immediate and profound “it doesn’t have to be this way.” Once seeing South Korea that impression is only reaffirmed tenfold.

The choices of leadership matter.

With Kim Jong Il’s passing and his son Kim Jong-Un taking the reigns, what will become of the next North Korea remains an open question. Will Kim Jong-Un seek to found a new North Korea in the inspiration of China’s post-communist transition, or another North Korea modeled on his grandfather Kim Il Sung’s own totalitarian state?

The photo sets below are a reflection on this question, showing one shot of North Korea followed by a similar shot of South Korea. They are a testament to life on both sides of the divide and an indication of what currently is in contrast to what might become.

Note: All photos are the exclusive property of Ethan Wilkes. Photos of North Korea were taken in August 2007 and shots of South Korea in September 2009.

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