North Korea to the Western Eye


I have chosen to analyse an image from The Telegraph; it is part of a gallery containing images that were taken during the first anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s Death Ex Supreme leader of North Korea.
This particular image stood out for me as it is so different to many images that are shared of the Country. The Image fits in with Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism; in showing us a radical image that is so very different to anything that we see in our own country and is communicating with the viewer of the image that these people and this country is completely unlike anything we are; say or do. The two Giant murals of the Supreme Leader and his deceased Father are so unusual to the Western eye especially in such a dark, soulless and seemingly cold place. The other way in which the image convinces me of ‘Orientalism’ is the shift in focus. The focus that would normally almost always be in the foreground is shifted to the back of the image; making sure that the viewers eye is eventually placed upon the two murals of the Supreme Leader and his Father in the center.
The supposed police woman or soldier in the front of the image also sends a message out to the European viewers of the image. The fact that you are so close and she is the main and biggest subject in the photo would in the Western world almost demand that she should be in focus. As she isn’t this signals to the viewer that the subject in the image and therefore the majority of the country  have no identity and are all below the Supreme Leader and are  considered almost meaningless from the view of the outsider. The figures behind the one previously mentioned at the front of the image also communicate with the Western audience. They give the impression of a desolate, empty place full of darkness which I suppose is correct as to Europe it is; the country of North Korea is so distant and unexplored by us due to the strict Government regime.
Another interesting observation of the image is the contrast and the use of rule of thirds. The contrasting light against the incredible darkness of the rest of the image; signals to the viewer the importance of the two murals that are in the picture. The rule of thirds is in a way ignored in this image as in each third of the image there is a something of importance to look at; this isn’t the case in normal conventional photography; but in this image all of subjects define the country to the Western eye.


One thought on “North Korea to the Western Eye

  1. This is a nice image to concentrate on, Patrick, and your points about focus and the use of darkness/illumination work well. You make a sound argument there, so well done on that. There are a few things that you might want to work on however. The first considers your relationship to theory. You mention Said’s ‘Orientalism’ theory and use it to claim that this photograph creates a ‘them’ very different to the European ‘us’. This is good so far as it goes, but you stop short of saying what the *content* of those differences actually are in his theory. Said lays out a whole load of qualities that the West has historically attributed to the East, and delving into that a bit deeper could bring out the further significance of your image. (In a related point, don’t forget that you must reference sources properly within your text and provide a bibliography, even for a blog entry). Secondly, do read your work through and sort our grammatical errors and ambiguities of meaning. I had a bit of trouble working out exactly what you meant in your last paragraph and, particularly, your final sentence. This is a solid blog entry, in the mid to upper end of the 2:2s, but tidy it up a bit and be more considered in your use of theory and it could clearly get into the 2:1s.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s