The focus of the world's anxieties lies squarely on the country of North Korea. With its increasingly sophisticated arsenal of nuclear weaponry, and an erratic leader who seems unafraid to use it, it's more important than ever to understand this isolated, enigmatic and unpredictable player on the world stage. The immaculately produced National Geographic documentary Inside North Korea: The Kim Dynasty seeks to do just that.
The film retraces the tumultuous history of the country - from its founding as an independent nation in 1948 to its current status as a formidable nuclear power.
Throughout the course of the film, we learn about the distinct personalities of each of the country's fearsome leaders, and the tactics they've employed to manufacture a landscape in their image. The first ruler of North Korea - Kim Il-sung - led for almost five decades, and maintained a fanatical hold over his people that has prevailed in the subsequent reign of his offspring. This all-consuming control continues to bleed into the propaganda produced by the country's state-run media, the punishments suffered by those who dare to question or defy the Supreme Leader, and their intensely defiant perceptions of American aggression.
Even though the country is roughly the size of the state of Mississippi, they are determined to become one of the world's most feared and respected powers. In their view, this can only be achieved if they maintain nuclear capabilities. Currently, they have devised a series of intercontinental ballistic missiles that may have the ability of reaching into the heartland of the U.S.
Inside North Korea: The Kim Dynasty features interviews with a variety of experts in international affairs. Collectively, they provide a wide-angle view of the country's politics and the role they play in shaping tensions in the region and across the world. The filmmakers also engage in the deeply personal testimonies of history's forgotten witnesses, including an elderly woman who struggled through the country's rocky transition as an independent nation, a photojournalist who's determined to find the humanity beneath the false facade of discipline and order, and a North Korean citizen who miraculously defected and lived to tell about it.