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American Citizen Possibly Faces Death Penalty in North Korea For Taking Photos

by Chris Gampat on 04/28/2013

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A99 review images (1 of 32)ISO 100

If you took a photo of a homeless person in America, do you think for a second that you’d be somehow or another linked to the overthrowing of our government because you’re working on a project documenting economic disparity? That’s what’s happening to American citizen Kenneth Bae according to the Guardian. Kenneth is being charged with a plot to overthrow the government through what seems to be taking photos–though the government is not making his charges totally clear. And the evidence: he was taking photos of homeless people.

According to The Telegraph,

“The circumstances of Mr Bae’s arrest are unclear, but Do Hee-youn told the New York Times that Mr Bae may have taken photographs of orphans begging for food in the markets of Rason.

“The most plausible scenario I can think of is that he took some pictures of the orphans, and the North Korean authorities considered that an act of anti-North Korean propaganda,” he said. However, taking photographs has never before led to the arrest of a foreign visitor to North Korea.”

Mr. Bae has further admitted to being part of crimes committed to toppling the government, but from what the article states he apparently seemed to do it through a documentary process. Magnum Photos (an agency I used to intern for) has forever funded and promoted the need for documentary photographers to help institute change for the betterment of mankind. And for years, photography has helped to change the world. The famous image that Eddie Adams shot helped to reveal the truths in the Vietnam War, for example.

And the moral of the story: don’t take pictures.


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