It's known as one of the world's most isolated nations, the subject of intense global speculation as it makes headlines for a long-range rocket launch and a deadly artillery attack, among other troubling events.
But for many people living in North Korea, daily life can be less bleak than many reports suggest.
David Guttenfelder, chief Asia photographer for the Associated Press, has traveled to North Korea numerous times over the past 12 years. His stunning images from in and around Pyongyang include many scenes which appear surprisingly familiar to Western eyes -- a bustling subway station, a classical music performance, even a pack of smiling youngsters awaiting the launch of a theme park ride.
Take a look at some of Guttenfelder's incredible images here: