Monday, June 28, 2010

Life Under Death

If you ever want to experience the suffocating, almost surreal, horror of life under dictatorship, watch this amazing documentary, Vice Guide to North Korea (part 1, part 2, part 3). After a difficult and "weird process", two journalists manage to get into North Korea and sneak footage while under the ever present monitoring of their "tour guides." Interspersed throughout are segments of a bizarre North Korean propaganda film trumpeting the greatness of the Dear Leader and excoriating the "high handedness" of the U.S. imperialists. The courage of these guys to do something like this is epic. (One of my favorite parts is the museum of treasures where Kim shares "gifts" from leaders abroad with the Korean people. The gifts include items that look like they were purchased at Toys-R-Us.)

8 comments:

Richard said...

I'll be sure to check this out. The Vice Guide series on Liberia was particularly horrifying and got a lot of attention throughout the internet.

Doug Reich said...

Richard,

yes, I couldn't even finish the Liberia one - grizzly - that was total anarchy! this one is Orwellian Big Brother

I give the makers a lot of credit - wouldn't even consider doing what they do...

Let me know what you think after watching

HaynesBE said...

Doug--This clip is unreal. Stunningly tragic.
Amazing that they made it in...and then made it out again...that they were allowed to film at all...amazing.
Do you think the roads were empty because they were cleared or b/c nobody goes on the roads?
Do the people really believe all that propaganda?
It took me a while to figure out how to access parts 2 and 3. (I just changed the number in the url.)

Mo said...

one has to wonder why the military cannot overthrow such a dictatorship.

Doug Reich said...

Beth,

I'm sure they give this "tour" a lot, and it is planned. They take them away from any populated areas and bring them to sterilized locations. The funny thing is what they consider to be impressive. The saddest thing had to be that beautiful young woman he was playing ping pong with. What was that place? It gave me the sense of just seeing a beautiful potential life wasted. Yeah, where was everyone? The whole thing was surreal.

Doug Reich said...

Mo,

They take care of the military. The military IS the dictatorship. They get all the perks and the power.

Doug Reich said...

Anyone notice that in every room they go throughout the documentary, there is a picture of Kim Jong-il and his father Kim il-Sung on the wall? Right out of 1984.

Richard said...

Well I only just got around to watching this. But I thought I should still make some comment since you urged me to.

I don't think the word surreal can be overused here. It's difficult for me to keep in mind such insanity takes place on Earth in 2010.

What was really impressed upon me throughout the video was how the *entire nation* has a seemingly singular purpose of impressing *others*. I was reminded how Rand wrote that dictators are not selfish at all, and lack any real sense of a self.

Despite Kim Jong-il's political power, the moment they entered the country as tourists they became the most powerful people in the country in a sense. Every action along their trip was honed towards THEIR thoughts and opinions.

The "tea girl" was very tragic and heartbreaking. I hope that someday in the not too distant future North Korea might be introduced to the 21st century.