I went to Pyongyang today: I stayed in an immaculate North Korean hotel room, watched as the country's ballistic missiles paraded past me, and saw thousands of followers wave flags and flowers in honour of their leader.
No. I didn't have a special invitation from Kim Jong-un. I went in virtual reality.
In a collaboration with VR company Jaunt, ABC News captured the North Korean capital in intimate detail. All you need is a smartphone, the Jaunt app, and a Google Cardboard viewer.
The feature puts you side-by-side ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff (and the two government security guards ordered to follow his every move) as you explore Pyongyang streets, subway stations, and finally Kim Il Sung Square, home of North Korea's biggest event of the year — the 70th anniversary of the North Korean Workers' Party.
In a post for ABCNews.com, Woodruff wrote that this marked his sixth trip to North Korea. He was surprised that the same country that took apart his pen to make sure it didn't contain a hidden camera in 2005 allowed him and his crew to haul in a 16-lens VR camera to capture every detail of the capital in 360 degrees. But hey, here we are.
Woodruff's report and observations of more lax inspections — he says officials barely checked out the VR camera — come on the heels of North Korean efforts to boost foreign tourism.
ABC, which launched its VR arm in September, joins other decades-old news outlets in the VR storytelling arena, like the New York Times and the Associated Press, which have started pursuing the technology as a storytelling tool. You can also watch the 360-degree video of the North Korea report on YouTube here:
ABC's Bob Woodruff and Ronnie Polidoro prepare Jaunt's 360 degree camera in Pyongyang, North Korea. Credit: Gamay Palacios / ABC News
Jaunt's 360 degree camera takes a taxi ride in Pyongyang, North Korea. Credit: Ronnie Polidoro / ABC News
From left to right: ABC News' Gamay Palacios, Margaret Dawson, Ronnie Polidoro and Bob Woodruff in Kim il-Sung Square, North Korea on Oct. 10, 2015. Credit: ABC News
Images courtesy ABC News