12/19/2011 07:07 am ET Updated Nov 30, 2012

Traveling Through Kim Jong Il's Austere And Extravagant North Korea (PHOTOS)

In September, I went on a trip I'd been hoping to take since I moved to Hong Kong five years ago. I headed to North Korea.

Accompanied by a friend, I took a two person guided tour arranged by Koryo Tours. Though we were accompanied and observed by two North Korean guides and a driver throughout the trip, I had the opportunity to take lots of photos what we saw, much of which defied description. The pictures seem particularly important now that it is less certain other travelers will have the opportunity to see the country as I did.

Some of these photos are of a visually appealing Mass Games performance, in which 100,000 North Korean performed synchronized acrobatics. Others are of the quieter side of North Korean life and capture everyday individuals living their lives in a country where Dear Leader's will was law.

To see more of my photographs of the Hermit Kingdom, check out the complete photo set. For more of my photographs of various Asian destinations, please stop by my website.