This was a test of my ability to hold a camera still in low light on a moving escalator – but the result wasn’t too bad.
One of the amazing things about Pyongyang’s metro is the depth at which the underground lines have been constructed. The escalators down to the station platforms seem to go on forever, and like the rest of the country, there are no advertising posters or billboards whatsoever.
There is an interesting website about the Pyongyang metro at www.pyongyang-metro.com which claims that the system was built to link secret underground military facilities, and that it includes secret government-only lines, “although the extent of these, if they exist, is unknown”, and a wartime operations command post “from where some 5000 members of the elite will run the anticipated nuclear war with the West”. I have no idea whether this is true, but most westerner visitors to Pyongyang will surmise that the deep metro tunnels serve a double purpose as bomb shelters.
When I was in Pyongyang last year, I asked my guide whether this was true. He laughed and said of course it was not true. He said the tunnels were deep because there was a layer of soft rock 100-150 metres below the surface which made it easy to dig the tunnels. A colleague who visited the previous year asked the same question. The answer he got was that the tunnels were deep to keep the people warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Anyhow, whatever the truth, I thought the escalators made an interesting graphic image. I’ve had this on my computer for a while, but something made me feel like posting it today.
Maybe I should have saved this one for today
Critiques | Translate
Andrzej_HHH (2480) 2006-10-09 12:31
Wow - very unique picture. There`s not so many persons that saw Pyon-yang. I think that this is deepest subway in the world. Thanks for sharing and note. With best regards! Andrzej
leo61 (0) 2006-10-09 12:38
Great shot with amazing depth.
Excellent POV,nice light and lights and fantastic colors.
ohe (2334) 2006-10-09 12:54
Very nice shot!
Perspective is very well rendered!
Colors are very nice!
Thanks for sharing,
- Olivier -
scalerman (26900) 2006-10-09 12:55
David: just browsing the Aisan gallerires. Cool and surreal picture you've brought. Would never have expected something so 'modern' for the isolated region, though I know proletarian countries are proud of their mass transit, i.e., the Moscow subway. regards, c
worldcitizen (9178) 2006-10-09 13:01
This photo is interesting and eerie at the same time. The lighting is futuristic and the depth is amazing. It seems like the tunnel to nowhere...TFS.
Voltri (1777) 2006-10-09 14:46
David, I can estimate the size coz I've seen the deepest station in the world - 'Arsenalna' station in Kyiv, Ukraine. It has 2 consequent elevators and is hiddent at 220 m!
pboehringer (770) 2006-10-09 19:27
Excellent moment to post this picture, although I can imagine that the underground that is being mentioned everywhere in the media looks quite different form your shot.
I'm not quite sure the ISO that you used here, but it seems to be rather on the high side, ergo the noise, that really doesn't bother me. Good composition, though simple, and great colors.
Best Regards, Peter
PJE (20758) 2006-10-10 0:51
David I like the no advertising aspect here too. It has a way of opening up the mind to the elements of design in this place. A very good photo with 1/15th of a second shutter speed. Excellent lighting results!
ktanska (28729) 2006-10-10 2:52
I like the scene and have taken similar type of shots elsewhere. Yes, lack of ads makes this different.
I wouldn't be surprised if there are secret tunnels, warehouses etc. Even London had at least during WWII. The explanation you got may be true. The other one isn't. The tunnels don't have to be deep to keep temperature relatively stable.
brevbrev14 (140) 2006-10-10 3:30
Hi DAvid, great graphic shot as i like here!fantastic lines, fantastic tones,great compo and POV!beautiful and very sharpness also with low lights!
oochappan (16173) 2006-10-10 17:22
The colors and the strong converging perspective to the center makes this view impressive with a strong mood. Well shot David.
placombe (7901) 2006-10-12 21:27
Remarkable depth of field. You are courageous, shooting in North Korea.
cezon (25) 2006-10-14 11:17
Fascinating shot and also the note, as you fill the viewer in so well on the story behind the image.
tcht (7565) 2006-10-16 5:39
Amazing reportage from Pyongyang. Seems relatively 'modern' subway compared to the city itself. Always interesting to see such 'clean' ceilings...not even communist propaganda?! Good documentary work, TFS.
Stepan (27210) 2006-10-17 14:25
I find this country so unbelievable !! Your journey must have been so strange and unique. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Polonaise (5802) 2006-10-19 16:31
You tell me North Korea and I come running with my tongue down to my knees.
Yet another marvel.
Great American journalist Mrs. Diane Sawyer is right now in N.K.
Every morning on CBS is my time of amusement and wonder for several minutes.
Yesterday, there was a segment about this subway stuff in Pyongyang. Extraordinary, with a lot of 'unspoken' commentaries and we, the TV audience, are having a good time trying to decode her words into 'proper' information.
Her 'guides' are with her constantly, and one can only imagine how this report would look like being free of worries of how to be a politically correct in the charming place like N.K.
Allow me to say that again in the true meaning...
clnaef (6289) 2006-10-30 4:58
Perspective intéressante. La sortie semble bien loin.
capthaddock (28790) 2006-11-17 21:31
Hi David - even though the geometry and neon colours are interesting, the appeal of this image comes from not what it is but where it is, I can't beleive such an isolated poor country without resources can afford such ambitious infrastructure.
rozy975 (3047) 2006-11-30 14:06
Interesting one with great note.
I like the colors and your PoV.
jb06 (150) 2006-12-06 15:36
This photo is quite amazing. I don't know If you have been to Italy, but this looks like it good be a (EXTREMELY MODERN lol) escalator in a place in Perugia, Italy. It felt as though it went up (and down) forever.
plamn (632) 2006-12-11 9:05
Real achievement! And taken in such a country where the security services keep eye on every body all the time! Congratulations!
Apropos, is it so scary there? I see a lot of the comments are from people which know N.Korea only from CBS or CNN screen.
It is funny to read about the fear from country on defense. If not in the focus of certain politicians, all those frightened people would have no idea where Korea is on the map probably. That is another advantage of the photo - with its simplicity to provoke our feelings and thoughts.
Thanks and best wishes!
Serendipity (1045) 2007-02-07 13:41
Wow, a really strange picture which consolidate the idea we had of that secret country.
Great job !
Juzo (4227) 2011-01-09 3:46
Quite a fascinating shot, the depth of how far it goes underground is a little scary. Without the advertising, I must say, seems very serene, peacful. The depth of field it great, the graphical sense is fantastic, although there is a little noise in parts (I assume due to high iso) but overall..this is fascinating..and quality.
- Copyright: David Astley (banyanman) (7789)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2005-09-15
- Categories: Transportation
- Camera: Nikon D100, Nikkor AF-S 12-24mm f/4G ED
- Exposure: f/4, 1/15 seconds
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): Underground and Subway [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2006-10-09 12:27