Amongst the newly announced winners of the 2012 World Press Photo Contest, you’ll find spectacular images from last year’s most shocking news events. But some of the most stirring photos are solemn and sober, like this photo, taken in the North Korean capital Pyongyang just two months before the sudden death of Kim Jong-il.
Taken by Bosnian photographer Damir Sagolj with a 5D Mark II on October 5, the photo is as beautiful as it is eerie — the illuminated, Big Brother-like portrait of Kim Il-sung (Kim Jong-il’s father and predecessor) looms as the sole source of light in photo. It’s as if all of the energy contained in the drab buildings framing the portrait had been sacrificed to ensure that the departed leader’s face would shine in light forever.
But the grimmer reality is maybe that simply there is simply is no power for the other windows to shine. While North Korea has made some progress in improving its electrical infrastructure, much of the country remains without power at night. Though this image is generated from a satellite data that’s nearly 20 years old, current data indicates that the situation remains mostly the same. Sagolj’s gorgeous photo is a close-up to the satellite’s long, establishing shot.
The photo’s aerial perspective only contributes to the surreal effect of the photo. It’s almost like Sagolj could sense trouble on the horizon. I have no idea what was going through Sagolj’s head when he took this photo, but I suspect that as with all great news photography, the undoctored-reality recorded by his camera’s image sensor says more than Sagolj intended.
Image: Damir Sagolj/Reuters