What you see above is the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, purported to be the largest stadium in the world by capacity, which is estimated to be 114,000. It’s one of the crown jewels of the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, captured here by a photographer who was given rare permission to fly over and take extended video of the city.
The video, shot in 3D, is a mesmerizing 12-minute look at one of the most secretive places on Earth. It was shot by a Singaporean photographer named Aram Pan, who told NK News that he filmed it in September, having been given permission by North Korean officials after several prior trips to the country.
From NK News:
Aram Pan: Perhaps it’s because I don’t see them as the terrifying people everyone thinks they are and I guess they feel that. I find that the friendlier I am, the more they naturally reveal themselves to me. There’s an old saying, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”.
NK News: How did you get the rights to film from above? What was the experience like?
Aram Pan: They’ve recently restricted bringing cameras or mobile phones into the microlight planes for safety reasons. The wind is extremely strong up there and a well-timed gust would knock off your mobile phone.
I asked if I could capture the city from the air – long story short. After a combined effort on the part of the NTA (National Tourism Administration) and KITC (Korea International Travel Company), approval was obtained and my flight was arranged so I could bring up any camera that could be safely stuck or tethered to me.
Flying over a city in an open-air microlight with a 2kg (4.4lbs) DSLR needed plenty of safety precautions. I still ended up bringing 4 cameras, including the Entaniya setup that captured the world’s first 360° aerial video over North Korea. This experience is made unique because of North Korea being isolated yet here I am doing aerial photography over the most secretive state in the world!
NK News: Did they check your footage or photos after the flight? Did they delete anything?
Aram Pan: Yes, there was a guy there to go through all the material I shot. There were a couple of photos he deleted. I’d say I kept 90% of what I shot. The North Koreans were really proud of their city and were chatting with me about what I saw and what I liked. Even the guy who deleted my photos was very into the conversation.
You can see the full footage below.