Damir Sagolj, a London College of Communication (LCC) MA Photojournalism student, has won first prize in the World Press Photo Daily Life Singles category with his photograph of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung on a wall in Pyongyang. The annual World Press Photo contest is universally recognized as the world’s leading international contest for photojournalists, setting the standard for the profession.
Sagolj took the photograph during a trip to North Korea to document the hunger crisis in the provinces. “It was taken from the window of my hotel room in Pyongyang early in the morning, just before the sunrise,” says Sagolj. “I knew the portrait was there and I insisted on getting a room on a very high floor facing in the right direction. All I then had to do was wake up early and make sure I exposed well. The scene has this eerie look for five to 10 minutes, before the revolutionary songs and propaganda speeches from loudspeakers wake the city up.”
“It is an easy picture but there was lots of hard work behind it,” explains Sagolj. “It took months of research, logistics, lots of paperwork and frustration.”
Born in Sarajevo in 1971, Sagolj joined Reuters as a staff photographer in 1997. He has covered major events in the Balkans, Middle East and Americas and is currently chief photographer in Thailand. Sagolj was in the Bosnian army for five years and worked for the Paris-based Sipa press agency as their Bosnian photographer.
Find out more about the online photojournalism course at LCC.
See more of Damir’s photos of North Korea on the Reuters website.