North Korea is a land of stories that don't often get told. Here are some that did

With a U.S. soldier crossing the border into North Korea at the border town of Panmunjom and in custody this week, talk turns to the nation itself — a country that is known for its suspicion of outsiders but also rejects frequent descriptions of it as reclusive.

In some ways, North Korea is a nation like many others; it is also definitively its own thing, sometimes strikingly different from the rest of the world.

For six years until his death in 2019, longtime Associated Press Asia correspondent Eric Talmadge was the news organization’s Pyongyang bureau chief. In that role, with regular access unusual for a journalist from the West, he wrote many stories that explored the nation’s culture, politics and economics during the rule of third-generation leader Kim Jong Un.

As the drama around the American soldier plays out, here is a selection of some of Talmadge's AP coverage that pulls back the curtain on a society that few around the world see.


— The real revolution in North Korea is the rise of consumer culture.

— This AP word cloud reveals the patterns in North Korean propaganda.

— Yes, canned soup may be fueling North Korea’s air force.

— With its options limited, North Korea is lit by flashlights and a creaky grid.

— First person: How the Pyeongchang Olympics might feel to a North Korean.

— North Korean economics 101: How much is a dollar worth?

— Postcard from Pyongyang: The airport now has Wi-Fi, sort of.

— K-pop and fancy sneakers: Kim Jong Un’s cultural revolution.

— Swedes keep a room ready for U.S. diplomats in Pyongyang.

— North Korea’s construction boom may build more than a skyline.

— North Korea learns to embrace its inner consumer.

— World's tallest empty hotel lit up by North Korean propaganda.

Additionally, former AP Pyongyang photographer Wong Maye-E made this series of portraits of North Koreans that offer a glimpse into the nation's people and culture.


Find more AP North Korea news here. To see Talmadge's Instagram images of North Korea, click here.