An article published in 2014 by NK News wrote: “In fact, Pan, who runs a business creating 360° virtual tours for hotels and property developers, first proposed his services to the North Korean authorities via foreign intermediaries outside the country.”
The article can be found here: https://www.nknews.org/2014/10/photographs-provide-virtual-tour-of-liberation-war-museum/
After over a year of being publicly online, the article was put behind a paywall and can no longer be accessible publicly. During the article’s circulation, many people including a few of my business clients, read it and had the misconception I was being paid by North Korea for my services. One of my business clients absolutely freaked out and canceled a US$20,000 project with me over fears of being associated with me. He had believed the article to be “fact” and assumed I was employed under the regime.
The most damning part of the article comes from a particular interview. I have screen captured that section and uploaded it here since it is no longer public:
I need to highlight some missing facts. The DPRK 360 project is my own, privately run project. I contacted North Korea for permission to proceed with my project as it involved photography and video recording of many proposed places. I never “offered my services to North Korea”, nor am I endorsed by them.
My project needed sponsors to help offset some of the prohibitively high costs of travel charged by the DPRK. Yes, North Korea charges me money to do my project. I contacted multiple travel companies and proposed my project to help create a better understanding of North Korea.
For the record, I had called Simon Cockerell from Koryo Tours before he was interviewed for this article and explained everything about my project plans. He declined to support my project during that one phone call and we have never communicated since.
I am extremely saddened the interview came out skewed and I was not fact-checked before this article was published. My family and I suffered a huge financial setback during a time I desperately needed the funds to continue my project.
However, I am thankful for other travel companies that graciously supported me to help create a better understanding of what’s going on inside North Korea and I continued to make many subsequent trips over the years.
(In descending order of the greatest sponsor contribution)
Several years later, I met Chad O’Carroll, Founder of NK News and he did a proper, factual article about me: https://www.nknews.org/2016/06/why-does-singaporean-photographer-aram-pan-keep-going-back-to-north-korea/