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Photo book gives rare glimpse of North Korean people's daily lives

Freelance photographer Ari Hatsuzawa is pictured in Tokyo on May 11, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- A freelance Japanese photographer has published a photo book capturing portraits and landscapes in North Korea, giving a glimpse of daily life in the country amid the unstable situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Photographer Ari Hatsuzawa, 44, has visited North Korea seven times. His newly published photo book "Rinjin Sorekara" (Neighbors, from then on), zooms in on North Korean people's lives. The photos include one of an old woman relaxing under a tree on a backstreet, and one of a couple sitting together at restaurant on a boat -- similar to scenes in South Korea. However, people living in rural areas are very poor. One photo shows many wooden boats lined on the seaside in extremely cold weather.

The photo book arrives ahead of next month's expected summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, amid concerns that Japan has been diplomatically left out in the cold. The book can be a window on the daily lives of North Korean people, which are not well-known among Japanese people.

"East Asia has seen turbulent changes, but Japanese alone have been unable to free themselves from the stereotypes that have seeped in," Hatsuzawa says. His snaps, while taken in a country where the government controls everything, may give you a glimpse of the real face of Japan's neighbor.

(Japanese original by Takuma Suzuki, Evening Edition Department)

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