What's it like to visit one of the world's most secretive countries? Singapore-based photographer Aram Pan wanted to find out for himself. North Korea is notorious for stage-managed and highly restricted access for foreigners, but Pan decided to have a go at simply asking North Korean authorities whether he could enter the country and document what he saw.

He was granted permission, and by his own account was allowed to travel around relatively freely, with the only major restriction being that he was not allowed to photograph military personnel or installations. A professional 'virtual tour' photographer, Pan took a series of 360-degree panoramas of sites all over the country.

Photo: Aram Pan

According to Pan, quoted in an interview on the.me.com, the North Korean personnel assigned to accompany him were highly accommodating - 'my guides briefed me once on basic protocol, then let me to shoot away. They even helped me set up and keep my equipment once they saw me do it a couple of times.'

Photo: Aram Pan

Pan's experience sounds almost too good to be true to Western ears, used to reading primarily negative coverage of the secretive country, but he insists that nothing he saw on his trip appeared out of the ordinary. Speaking about his tour guides Pan claimed 'I had a lovely time with them and they never once made me feel uncomfortable. In fact they would go all out to assist me in anything that I needed. We talked freely about anything and everything under the sun, from politics to culture'.

Photo: Aram Pan

So much for the politics - as far as equipment is concerned, Pan used Nikon D800 and D700 DSLRs with various lenses, including a modified 10.5mm Nikon fisheye, with its built-in hood shaved off to make it useable on full-frame cameras. His 360-degree panoramic images are well-worth checking out - follow the links to see more.