Hello peeps! After a hiatus from blogging, here I am starting to write about something again. WOOHOO!!
Anyway, this post is going to be an account of my encounter with the reclusive Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Chairman, Kim Jong Un (KJU) - who was literally about 7 feet away from me.
Just a few hours ago after wrapping up my shoot at Mischief over at the Esplanade, we were informed by the Esplanade security staffs that all carpark exits have been closed because a VIP was coming to visit. In my mind, I was like "sheesh.. I hope this won't take too long" because honestly, I don't give a damn about whoever that wants to visit because I just wanna get home - this was around 09:15pm.
So instead of waiting in the Esplanade, my crew (Seng & Alex) and I took a stroll at by the bayfront and soon, we arrived at a barricade with a few local and foreign journalists already at the scene with their cameras hoping to catch a few of Kim Jong Un's photos.
In all truthfulness, I was just contented at using my mobile phone to take photos of KJU. However a brief chat with a Singapore based Getty images photographer made me think otherwise - she said "It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to take a photo of this man that even the WhiteHouse photographers don't have much opportunity to get photos of KJU. That's why I left my dinner halfway just to get to this location, to get the chance to photograph this man".
Suddenly that urge and desire to try and take a photo of this man (KJU) grew stronger and stronger and eventually, I couldn't resist the urge and sprinted to the car (where I had dropped off my equipments before heading out for a stroll) to pick up my equipments just to try and get photos of KJU.
You heard me right when I said sprinted. By the time I reached my car to grab my equipments, I was totally out of breath and exhausted. I could no longer muster the energy to run back to the original location that I was standing to wait for KJU. Despite my breathlessness and exhaustion, the desire to photos of KJU was still strong. So shortly after, I took the escalator back to the ground level. As I emerged from the carpark on the escalator to the 1st floor, a small inconspicuous door on the glass panel caught my eye. Thinking aloud to myself - "If I could exit this supposedly locked door, I could grab photos of KJU in close proximity as this fire escape door is the closest to the main road where KLU was due to arrive".
Perhaps luck had a way of presenting itself - as i pushed open the door, it became ajar. Excitedly, I exited it and immediately found myself standing at a barricade (guarded by 3 Singaporean Policemen). Looking around me, I found it strange that I was the only one there but couldn't care more to find out why. All I had in my mind was to take a few shots of Chairman Kim and that's it.
By 10:16pm, Chairman Kim's motorcade finally arrived. Below are some photos and descriptions of my attempts to photograph Kim Jong Un:
Kim Jong Un's motorcade arriving outside of the Esplanade at Esplanade Drive.
Can you believe how lucky I was to get an unobstructed and uncontested spot to finally photograph KJU? Ok, I was lucky up till the point where KJU's bodyguards stood in-front of me (to protect him) as the Leader got out of the car (you can catch a glimpse of KJU's head between the bodyguards).
In this image, you can clearly see the bodyguards with their earpieces, an armed Singapore Policeman, our Singapore Minister, Mr. Vivien Balakrishnan and of course the half shaven head with the high curls hair of Kim Jong Un. They were making their way to the Jubilee Bridge just beside the Esplanade.
It is here that I was pretty amazed - the whole group of about 40 people took a walk on the Jubilee Bridge and within 5mins, they were already on their way back. Perhaps the Singapore weather is really too hot to bear for Chairman Kim. Haha..
Anyway a few of Chairman Kim's bodyguards made their way back to the motorcade first prior to KJU coming back to the car. Just so happened that one sad and concerned looking North Korean bodyguard noticed me standing alone behind the barricade, holding my camera with a long lens, waiting to photograph his beloved Leader. He made eye contact with me with his sad eyes and subsequently made every effort to deliberately stand where my camera was pointing (this time Chairman Kim was already making him way back to the car) just so I won't get a shot of his Leader.
If you look closely, the badge each DPRK personnel wears isn't the flag of the country but the faces of the late Leaders of the country Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-II. This just goes to show how much North Koreans adore their Leaders. Here's a close up of the badge.
As the contingent of around 40 people making their way towards the motorcade. My gosh I felt that it was really tough trying to get any picture of KJU. The sheer number of people with and around him makes it really tough to get a decent picture of him.
Finally i get a picture of his attire, his belly and sheesh.. half his face! Seriously Ong Ye Kung you freaking face-blocker, do you really need to walk beside Kim Jung Un?!
Oh can you also see that sad faced bodyguard noticing me again?
Some drama commenced at this juncture of the photo. This sad faced bodyguard raised his hand and shouted at me to stop taking photo. He didn't stop there, instead, he charged toward me with an intention to stop me from taking pictures of his beloved Leader. At this point of time, I sense his fury and decided to take 2 step back from the barricade.
This time, the bodyguard still unrelenting, charged even nearer to the barricade. I too made another 2 steps back just in case he comes over the barricade to snatch or destroy my camera (containing my client's photos). Thankfully our heroic Singapore Policeman interjected and signalled to the bodyguard that I am already far away, Let it slide. Thank you Policeman Sir!
Well, the bodyguard succeeded in causing disruption to my shoot and that I am not successful in getting a clear shot of his Leader Kim Jong Un *come I clap for you*. In this picture, the whole group has just arrived at the motorcade. Eh seriously, I don't want to see Vivien Balakrishnan. I want to see Kim Jong Un and not the back of his half shaven head! Sigh!
The above is the last picture of the night before everyone leaves.
Thank you once again for reading this blogpost. I hope that you were able to feel the excitement and the adrenaline rush which I felt, all while trying to take some photographs of the reclusive North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un.
Till then, stay safe and have a wonderful week ahead.