North Korea is preparing to launch a satellite into space, which will coincide with the 100th anniversary of founder Kim Il-sung's birthday on April 15. The notoriously reclusive nation, under new leader Kim Jong-un, has invited journalists to attend the launch in an attempt to curb international criticism over North Korea's violation of a previous agreement not to test or use ballistic missile technology. The launch is being viewed as a cover for developing a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. Indications of an upcoming underground nuclear test only deepen concerns over the nation's self-proclaimed peaceful space program.
While the launch is no doubt a source of anxiety for North Korea's neighbors and other world powers, it has provided an opportunity for journalists to get a glimpse of the communist Hermit Kingdom, limited though it may be.
Reuters photographer Bobby Yip has been granted access by the North Korean government to take pictures of various parts of the country. The Kim regime is certainly trying to present the country in the most positive light, so most of the photographs are of the capital Pyongyang, where most of the North Korea's wealth is disproportionately concentrated. However, there are a few shots of the countryside that reveal the underlying societal disparities in a country dealing with a host of issues from environmental degradation, food shortages and economic instability.
Click the slideshow to have a look inside North Korea.