EDITORS:

This year, The Associated Press was granted unprecedented access to the highways of North Korea for what turned out to be an extraordinary road trip through one of the world's least-known nations.

Pyongyang bureau chief Eric Talmadge and former Asia chief photographer David Guttenfelder chronicled their cross-country car trip, revealing a landscape that few have seen and even fewer have been able to travel extensively.

In a special report of photography, text and an interactive presentation, they will show you a North Korea that will surprise you and give you more tools to understand the regime of Kim Jong Un and the people who live in it.

The package includes:

ON THE ROAD IN NORTH KOREA

LAKE CHON, North Korea — At a truck stop nestled in a stunning, forest-covered North Korean highland, we squatted beside our lunches of kimchi and cold rice. A woman sold refreshments in a tarp-covered stall, and a half-dozen older people put down their loads and sat on a weed-covered embankment. It's quite possible none of them had ever seen an American before. But our presence went unacknowledged. No glances were exchanged. No words were spoken. We had been granted unprecedented access to see North Korea — 2,150 kilometers (1,336 miles) of it. But it was on North Korea's terms. No interviews with random people. No stops at prison camps. No doing anything without a "minder." Though we would not get to know the people along the way, the country itself had a great deal to say. And it was opening up before us. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 2,190 words moved in advance for use beginning 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

—A 720-word abridged version has moved in advance for use at the same time.

—Twenty photos by David Guttenfelder will move with the story.

—An interactive tracing Talmadge's and Guttenfelder's path will move at the same time.

The AP