Taken by photographer Eric Lafforgue and smuggled out of North Korea, the photos shed light on the most secretive country in the world.
The Belgian photographer visited the country for the first time eight years ago and has returned for times since.
His photos show a North Korea rarely seen on state-run tourist trips or in the propaganda videos pumped out by the rogue state.
A diary highlighting his most recent trip described the shocking poverty had had witnessed off the beaten track in Kim Jong-un's country.
North Korea's shocking truth is revealed through these photos
The poverty in these rural villages is palpable
It read: “The poverty in these rural villages is palpable. From the comfy seat in my bus, I see old, dilapidated houses with roofs ready to collapse. Only huge murals of the smiling Kim Il Sung bring colour to these bleak landscapes.
“My guide informs me that most tourists do not journey this far into the countryside, and that I may be the first European to ever visit this area.”
He described how his state minders went to great lengths to hide the shocking truth from him.
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Photographer Eric Lafforgue ventured to North Korea six times. Thanks to digital memory cards, he was able to save photos that was forbidden to take inside the segregated state
Eric Lafforgue/Exclusivepix Medi
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Taking pictures in the DMZ is easy, but if you come too close to the soldiers, they stop you
Mr Lafforgue said: “The bus continues on, accelerating every time it passes through a village, aggressively forcing other motorists to make way for the bus.
“There is a disparaging difference between the attitudes of the children in metropolitan areas and those of the children in the rural areas. Many wave hello and gaze at me with astonished faces.”
The photos show streets devoid of cars, children carrying out manual labour, emaciated citizens including some picking grass – possibly for food.
A North Korean man picking grass, possibly to eat
North Korean children carrying out manual labour
During his most recent trip to North Korea, the photographer was hosted by a family in the countryside – an experienced he jokingly compared to Air B’n’B.
He said: “The living room seems to double as a greenhouse, with plants growing in large pots in front of the sofa. On the wall, the Dear Leaders watch me through their ubiquitous portraits.
“I’m surprised to see three televisions in the house. According to my guide, every family in North Korea has at least three television sets.
“One TV is broadcasting an old black and white Russian movie while the home stereo plays melodious anthem-like songs. The combination of the two creates cacophony.
North Korean transport is slow and out-dated leading to huge queues
North Korean soldiers carrying out manual labour
“The situation seems like another example of North Korean propaganda.”
Mr Lafforgue reveals how he was accidentally electrocuted the following morning while a hot bath was prepared for him, adding the freezer had leaked in the night and spoiled his clothes.
This, he mused, was perhaps a more accurate look at a country desperately attempting to portray modernity and success in the face of poverty and collapse.