AFP photographer Ed Jones has been capturing everyday life in North Korea for several years. As one of the few Western journalists allowed to enter the secretive state on a regular basis, his access has generally been restricted to what the regime wants the world to see: Pyongyang's wide boulevards and pretty traffic policewomen and the country's regular choreographed mass propaganda events venerating its leaders past and present.

However, he recently took a trip along North Korea's eastern coast up to the Chinese border, photographing the harsh realities of life in the poverty-stricken rural villages along the way. His photos show a world far from the gleaming skyscrapers in the showpiece capital. People wheel bicycles along unpaved roads; children pull handcarts loaded with firewood and animal feed; and farmers wash vegetables in polluted streams.

North Korea

AFP opened a bureau in Pyongyang in September 2016, allowing Jones to travel from Seoul to Pyongyang (via Beijing) every six weeks or so, spending up to 14 days at a time there.

Jones told IBTimes UK: "Covering North Korea presents a number of unique challenges. Access to places, events and people is often restricted. Photographing daily life is very much a priority. Even the most mundane events or outings can often yield worthwhile images that, taken together, provide some insight, even if the wider picture is often obscured or out of view completely."