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North Korea Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in North Korea? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.

Filming in North Korea

For an introduction to shooting in North Korea see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.

North Korea Film Locations

North Korea is an East Asian country known for its unique socialist monuments and statues, Soviet-inspired concrete buildings, mountains, and forests.

North Korea maintains a centralized economy. Agricultural film locations include plantations of rice, corn, soybeans, and potatoes. Factories produce machines, military equipment, chemicals, and textiles. North Korea mines iron ore, and coal. Energy locations include hydroelectric dams, and coal-fired power plants.

The Mole: Undercover in North Korea (2020), Under the Sun (2015), Crossing the Line (2006), and A State of Mind (2004) filmed in North Korea.

Film locations can be divided into the following provinces: Chagang, North Hamgyong, South Hamgyong, North Hwanghae, South Hwanghae, Kangwon, North Pyongan, South Pyongan, and Ryanggang.

Pyongyang is the capital and largest city. Film locations of note include the Juche Tower, Kim Il-sung Square, Palace of Culture, Grand Theatre, Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, Taedong Gate, Potong Gate, Arch of Triumph, Victorious Fatherland War Museum, Korean Revolution Museum, Mangyongdae Children’s Palace, Mansu Hill Grand Monument, Monument to Party Founding, Chollima Statue, Arch of Reunification, Pyongyang Metro, Mangyongdae Funfair, May Day stadium, Changgwang Health and Recreation Complex, Pyongyang Golf Club, and the unfinished Ryugyong Hotel. The Three Revolutions Exhibition includes a planetarium shaped like the planet Saturn. The Pyongyang-based Mansudae Art Studio is one of the the largest centres of art production in the world. The studio has produced many of North Korea’s most important monuments. Mansudae Overseas Project Group is its foreign commercial division which has produced some of Africa’s best known monuments.

Outside of Pyongyang you can find:

Kaesong is known for its historic sites including Manwoldae Palace, Kaesong Walls, Kaesong Namdae Gate, Koryo Songgyungwan, Sungyang Sowon, Sonjuk Bridge, Tomb of King Wanggon, and Tomb of King Kongmin.

The Complex of Goguryeo Tombs includes the Tomb of King Tongmyŏng.

Mountains of note include Paektu Mountain, Mount Kumgang, Mount Chilbo, Mount Kuwol, and Mount Myohyang.

Heaven Lake is a beautiful crater lake.

Ski resorts of note include Masikryong Ski Resort, and Samjiyon socialist utopia ski resort.

Munsu Water Park is a state run water park.

Waterfalls of note include Pakyon Waterfall, and Ullim Waterfall.

Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities is located in Sinchon.

Nampho Dam is located on the Taedong River. Hwanggang Dam is located on the Imjin River.

Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge connects the cities of Dandong in China and Sinuiju of North Korea.

North Korea has several Special Economic Zones (SECs).

Rajin port is a large year-round ice-free port.

The DMZ (Northern Demilitarised Zone) divides North Korea and South Korea.

North Korea Film Location Permits

North Korea is one of the most secretive states in the world. All filming and photography is strictly controlled by the government. As is interaction with the local population. Filmmakers and photographers are not allowed to travel outside designated tour areas without their government guides. Permission to film must be sought through a registered tour operator. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

The North Korean winter (December to March) is long and bitterly cold. Spring (April to May) is mild. Summer (June to September) is humid and rainy. Fall (October to November) is mild. Spring and fall are the best seasons to film for weather. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:

• The Kimjongilia flower show in February.
• The Dragon Boat Festival in June.
• The Arirang Festival is a huge spectacle held in August.
• Major military parades take place on special anniversaries.
• May Day tends to be a good day for performances.

Permission to film or photograph these events are on a case by case basis.

Officially, North Korea is an atheist state.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in North Korea.

Unique Local Stories

Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.

If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.

If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. Day rates for locations, local talent and support crew are negotiable. Given that little to no filming infrastructure exists all key crew and equipment must be brought in from abroad. Our North Korean fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget. Note, there are no credit card facilities or ATMs in North Korea. Visiting crews are expected to make payments in Euros, USD, Yuan or Yen.

Tax Incentives. There are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or films shooting in North Korea.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. Key crew need to be brought in from abroad.

Contact us if you are looking for a director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew for your shoot in North Korea.

Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable.

Korean is the official language.

North Korea is one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world with only ethnic Korean looks available. All other talent looks need to be brought in from abroad.

North Korea Film Equipment

Equipment. You will need to bring in all camera, grip and lighting equipment from abroad. It is also wise to bring a variety of consumables that are not readily available in North Korea, such as batteries, medicine, and hygienic products.

Communication. Internet access is possible via the 3G network, and also through connections at some of the larger hotels.

Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.

Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.

For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department and set construction is non-existent.

Studios and backlots. None exist at present.

Post Production. Post abroad.

Visas & Work Permits

Entry to North Korea is strictly controlled by the government. Journalists require a special journalist visa, which is very difficult to get and needs to be applied for with government authorities. North Korea does not allow journalists to visit on tourist visas and efforts to sneak in as tourists can have dire consequences.

South Korean nationals are not permitted to travel to North Korea.

Entry and travel in North Korea is only permitted as part of an organized tour. Both individual and group tours are available. Applications for tourist visas must be made through a registered tour operator. The tour operator will require the following information:

• Your passport (e-copy and original)
• Employment certificate (e-copy)
• DPRK visa application form (signed original)
• Consent letter (e-copy)
• Photo (original)

Tourist visa processing times generally take about a month. Note, only the e-copy of your passport is sent away for the application.

  • Note, if the application for your North Korean tourist visa is made in Beijing then your visa will be stamped on a separate Tourist Card, thereby leaving no indication in your passport of travel to North Korea. If the application for the visa is made anywhere else then the visa will be stamped into your passport. Given the changing nature of international politics, western film and photography professionals who need to travel abroad regularly for their work may prefer to opt for the Beijing option.

    Please contact us to be put in touch with a specialist North Korean travel agency that can help you gain entry to North Korea.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Several international airlines service flights to North Korea. Note, it is not possible to travel to North Korea via South Korea. Flights only route through China and Russia.

Foreigners (regardless of nationality) who are transiting through China for no longer than 24 hours do not need to apply for a Chinese visa. This visa-free transit only applies if you are travelling by air. You will be required to present both the Pyongyang itinerary as well as proof of an onward flight from China.

China also offers travellers of 51 countries visa-free transit for up to 72 hours providing you fly into Beijing Capital Airport, will not leave Beijing during the transit period, and provide proof of an onward flight from Beijing Capital Airport.

Alternatively, you will need to get a multiple entry visa to China.

Entering North Korea by ferry or vehicle is not permitted. Entry by train is permitted for all nationalities except US and South Korean travellers.

Accommodation. The Yanggakdo Hotel is one of the better hotels in Pyongyang. It is roughly equivalent to a western 3 star hotel.

Final Notes

Safety. North Korea has very little street crime. Rules for visiting filmmakers and photographers are very strict and closely monitored. A visitor may be arrested and imprisoned even if they unwittingly commit any of the below acts:

• Unauthorized recordings including photographs, film and audio
• Unauthorized interaction with the local population
• Unauthorized travel including shopping at stores not designated for foreigners
• Disrespecting North Korea’s current and former leaders
• Proselytizing

The United States does not have a diplomatic mission in North Korea. If arrested or require any emergency services you will need to contact the Embassy of Sweden.

See here for up to date travel advice.

Down Time. Local alcohol is very inexpensive. Insam-ju is the local speciality – a Korean vodka infused with ginseng roots. Unexpectedly, cannabis is legal in North Korea, and can be purchased and smoked openly.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in North Korea, please see below:

Hire North Korea Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in North Korea, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in North Korea, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.