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Red Utopia, photographs from North Korea

This book presents photographs of a country where information is under strict control of the authorities. Yannis Kontos had to work very cautiously.

This book presents a photographic study which was produced under conditions of prohibition, in a country where the authorities control not only whether something is to documented but also the manner in which it is to be documented. North Korea is perhaps the most isolated country in the world.

Yannis Kontos’ photographs portray another world, light years away from our own reality. And it is this which gives them such exceptional value: they provide a window on a world to which, under normal circumstances, we would have no access at all.

Images vividly peculiar and inexplicable, in terms of our logic. Girls holding Kalashnikovs; crowds milling in front of giant posters inciting the destruction of American imperialism rather than the acquisition of consumer products; a metropolis of sky-scrapers completely bare of advertisements plunged into darkness every night at ten; the baroque feel of the Pyongyang Metro and other public spaces; the Great Leader’s portrait looming over every possible location, whether public or private; the sense of militaristic ritual even in the most mundane moments of everyday life...

The author: Yannis Kontos was born in Ioannina in 1971. He has been a freelance photojournalist since 1992.Collaborating with the French-based SYGMA (1998-2000) and GAMMA in the US, he has undertaken lengthy international assignments covering the world’s most important events.

He has received 19 awards to date, including first prize in the World Press Photo Competition, 2006. His works have been shown at exhibitions in Greece and internationally.

Visit his website

Edited by Kastaniotis Editions, 45 euros. More information and order form on


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