Award of Excellence|
One year since Kim Jong Un formally assumed power, the North Korean capital is in many ways a changed city. Glossy new construction downtown has altered the city’s skyline. The city once famous for its Dickensian darkness now pulsates with neon. More than a million people are using cell phones, and the new locally distributed tablet computers are being swept off the shelves in capital Pyongyang, even though few are granted access to the Internet. Beyond the main streets of Pyongyang and in the towns and villages outside the capital, life remains grindingly tough. For millions, food is still rationed, electricity a precious commodity and transport limited to walking, cycling or hopping in the back of a truck. Most homes do not have running water or plumbing, and though healthcare is free, aid workers say medicine is in short supply. This photo essay by Vincent Yu depicts the contradiction of a nation seeking to present a new and more open image to the world while refusing to let go of a tight cordon of restrictions towards its people.
A crowd of North Korean military members seated in a stadium in Pyongyang during a mass meeting called by the Central Committee of North Korea's ruling party on Saturday April 14, 2012. North Korea will mark the 100-year birth anniversary of the late leader Kim Il Sung on Sunday April 15.