A brand new photography book has been published that features striking documentation of North Korea’s state-run airline Air Koryo, offering readers a behind the scenes glimpse at the infrastructure of one of the most fascinating and secretive countries in the world.
Created by Dutch photographer and aviation enthusiast Arthur Mebius, “Dear Sky, the planes and people of North Korea’s airline” contains images that he has taken over the course of three trips to North Korea. Arthur documented a total of 24 flights with the airline during his time in the enigmatic country, travelling with a group of tourists that had a common interest in the Air Koryo fleet.
“I have been an aviation lover my whole life and also a professional photographer. Scrolling the net I discovered that in North Korea they were still flying old Russian-made airliners and I decided to go there to see for myself, and shoot of course. After my first visit, I knew I wanted to tell the story about the people keeping these old birds in the air and thus I returned two more times to get enough material to tell this in a photo book,” Arthur told Lonely Planet Travel News.
The photographer said that while the group was freely allowed to take pictures of any parts of the aircraft, he had to be very discreet when documenting people. Throughout his time there Arthur saw fifteen planes, four of which are new ones used for international flights. The book shows the older models in near mint condition, with the interiors still having their original designs dating back to the Jet Age.
“North Korea is an unusual country that is fascinating to many people, and I think people are curious to see what an airline might look like in such a strange context. There are some eccentric touches, such as showing variety stage performances of North Korean musical bands, complete with backdrop of military manoeuvres, with the soundtrack playing through the aircraft PA. The crossing of the Yalu River into North Korean airspace is announced over the PA”.
Arthur also said that while people expect poor service from the one star airline, which only operates international flights to China and Russia, his experiences were positive, with complimentary meals being served by a polite flight crew.
The “Dear Sky” photography book is available now at the official website.