More photos from this reportage are featured in Quartz’s new book The Objects that Power the Global Economy. You may not have seen these objects before, but they’ve already changed the way you live. Each chapter examines an object that is driving radical change in the global economy. This is from the chapter on the lithium-ion battery, which explores the future of energy.
At least some North Koreans are embracing solar energy as a solution to the isolated country’s outdated and unreliable energy infrastructure. In the busy Chinese border town of Dandong, personal solar panels are being bundled into packages aimed at North Korean buyers; advertising for the biggest packages promises enough power to run an entire household, from radio and television to a rice cooker and water boiler.
Dandong sits across the Yalu River from North Korea, making it easy for traders to come and go. In March, photographer Aurelien Foucault travelled there to shoot the local solar trade for Quartz’s new book. His images reveal a bustling trading city with store after store selling solar panels, solar powered water heaters and other goods coveted by North Korean buyers.
From photos of Dandong’s rooftops, you can see that solar devices are popular in China as well. On the Friendship Bridge connecting Dandong with Sinujui, North Korea, locals and tourists snap selfies while staring across the river at Sinujui’s pastel-colored ferris wheel.
Tensions have since flared in the region, as North Korea flaunted its nuclear capabilities with a series of belligerent statements towards South Korea and the United States throughout the summer. Recent United Nations sanctions currently limit the the goods that can be traded across the Friendship Bridge, but the markets selling solar devices aren’t reporting much of a change in business, reports AFP.
In fact, they’re thriving just as always.
Check out Quartz’s new book The Objects that Power the Global Economy.