Real vs. Fake Beijing

Ed: You've likely seen these North Korean posters before, but here's an illuminating comparison courtesy of our friends at The Wang Post


When the abbots at a Buddhist temple asked an artist to draw an elephant, he was at a loss, because he had never seen an elephant. How do you draw something you’ve never seen?

If you’ve heard the story of the Buddhist artist, then you can understand what happened here. These rosy coloured portraits are the latest propaganda to come out of North Korea, from an artist who has never visited Beijing or personally seen the buildings depicted.

While their artistic interpretation of Beijing is a city of glorious light and color, the real Beijing is plagued with days of hazardous air pollution. So here goes – real Beijing vs. imaginary Beijing.

The CCTV Headquarters, as imagined by the North Korean artist:


The CCTV Headquarters, covered in smog:

The Bird’s Nest:


… and the Bird’s Nest:


The Water Cube, with swimmers enjoying recreational activities:

They’re probably sleeping off the night before:

Happy Communists in their off hours?


Today’s Chinese youth on their nights out:


Which do you prefer?

Photos via CRI English

Chelsea Zhou is a photographer, writer and traveller

The Wang Post is a media project between left and right brains, focused on building a community where Asian-Americans and Western expats can find a place to discuss the issues pertinent to them: humor, lifestyle, politics, careers, and adjusting to a different cultural environment. We would like to invite you to enrich each other’s lives by sharing your unique voice, perspective and life experiences at The Wang Post