The utilization of media to expose users to other cultures is undergoing a bit of a minor renaissance currently.
“VR can create a feeling of presence,” says co-founder and CEO of SceneThere Marcus Olsson, in a prepared statement. “But until now the viewer has never been able to move around and explore the topic at hand. Our platform moves beyond that and allows viewers to walk around the city themselves.”
The platform he speaks of is one that transports users to Pyongyang, North Korea, a place that is especially inaccessible to tourists at current times. The experience is narrated by an expert on the area, features a wealth of perspectives to view the capital from, and is giving users a rare opportunity to form their own opinion on the polarizing country.
“We wanted to show how our VR platform can transcend borders and let you move around and experience a country or a topic first hand,” says Olsson. “I’d initially been invited to North Korea to speak about entrepreneurship and, because of that, I could film situations with my 360 camera that I wouldn’t have been able to do as a journalist.”
Olsson took full advantage of the opportunity, filming from 57 different positions along 10 locations in Pyongyang. SceneThere has only been around since 2016, but they leaped headfirst into impactful experiences. Previously, they gave users an informative look into the living conditions of a Brazilian favela and they’re tapping a specific talent to make this North Korean experience educational as well.
Andray Abrahamian is the executive director of Choson Exchange, a non-profit with the mission of educating entrepreneurial North Koreans in business practices via workshops, mentorships, and more. His work has made him an expert in Northeast Asian relations and the political economy of Korea, making him an invaluable source of information that is made available to anyone that uses SceneThere’s journey around Pyongyang. He narrates your time within the virtual space and gives insight into not only the landmarks but the traditions of the country.
This serves as just one example in the growing collection of ways VR and 360-degree media can take us into places we possibly wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise. You can download the experience for Gear VR or use the web viewer on SceneThere’s website.