Welcome to North Korea

Welcome to North Korea

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Ratings: 8.25/10 from 52 users.

Welcome to North KoreaThe winner of the 2001 International Emmy award for Best Documentary, Welcome to North Korea is a grotesquely surreal look at the all-too-real conditions in modern-day North Korea.

Dutch filmmaker Peter Tetteroo and his associate Raymond Feddema spent a week in and around the North Korean capital of Pyongyang -- ample time to represent the starvation and deprivation afflicting a good portion of the population, and to offset such "contemporary" imagery as cars and public facilities with the conspicuous nonuse of these trappings.

As the filmmakers reveal, the North Koreans have no opportunity to compare their existence with that of the outside world, due to the near-total cutoff of news and free transportation. The one predominant feature of this oppressed nation is manifested in the scores of statues, sculptures, and iconic paintings of North Korea's Communist dictator Kim Jong II, who has gone to great and sometimes ruthless lengths to convince his subjects that he has inherited godlike powers from his equally "divine" father, the late Kim II Sung (whose mummified body still lies in state, à la Lenin).

Were this not all too painfully true, Welcome to North Korea could easily pass as a grotesque fairy tale, out Grimm-ing anything found in Grimm. The film made its American TV debut via the Cinemax cable network on March 18, 2003.

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5 years ago

That country has not changed since the Silla age. Seongjong was the cruelest ruler of Korea during his time, and most if not all of the leaders of Korea were just like him except the methods of death. He entertained himself by boiling those dissidents or rebels in oil or other forms of hot liquids. Todays leader in Korea is more technologically sound, and uses extremity during torture, imprisonment, information gathering, and brainwashing when it suits them. Kim Jong Un is just like his father... vile, contemptible, cruel, and without morals like he was taught to be. The only person that ever did anything right for the people was his grandfather. He provided jobs, exposed the populace to world issues... had education high on the list for children, and helped the farmlands overcome extreme adversity during drastic weather changes. When his son Kim Jong Il took office, it was all over for North Korea.

Starvation, dysentery, radical diseases, and the highest form of unemployment gripped the country once he dipped his hands into their coffer slush funds for all of the farmers, and their inheritances. Not only did he exacerbate all of the funds he kept most land titles as a kind of IOU if the farmers could not come up with the daily months end payment for land leases. Once a payment was not met, the military would step in, evict the family, and repossess everything literally tossing them out into the streets without a shirt on their backs.

Much like china does when the communist party reduces grace periods for bank loans and in turn the farmer loses everything because farmers are not allowed to own land in any part in china unless it was signed by an emperor declaring that the family would be protected. Without a signature they are beggars to an early demise. Korea holds that true as well when it comes to their own kingdom. Farmers are not allowed to own land because it is considered to be a motive against the empire if a person owns, or has more than they need. Paranoia runs rampant within the capital, people are starving, children are dying, and not one single ear inside the United Nations has taken notice.

Kim was educated in Switzerland of all places, and even then as he studied for politics he had no interest in it. Only his father was the one who convinced him that by crushing his people would he ever become rich, famous, and a so called icon for the people. Once his stranglehold took effect kim's ideals began to spring into action using all manners of ill repute against even his own uncle who was executed on kim's order because of the paranoia setting in. Yet his uncle could never be the next ruler simply because he was a military man, and had no interest in the throne.

And to top it all off, his own generals hated the fact he gave himself a ridiculous promotion to grand marshal, which is closely identical to being a chancellor. Either way kim has been still has no interest within the political body because all he wants is to look as powerful as possible creating more fear, doubt, and ultimately digging his own grave once and for all. Revolutions has been caused for less... and very soon it will be the people who fight back. Hell... even the military soldiers are beginning to defect these days.

6 years ago

I just returned from DPRK and a lot has changed compared to 2001. These days the buildings are painted in joyfull colors (Pyongyang and other 'tourist' cities) and there are a lot more cars and taxi's. If the country would still be in the state it was in 2001 it would have collapsed already. So in a way this relative progress is sad because it will postpone fundamental changes of this crazy system. Nowadays it is possible to run the marathon and while running through the city you are not accompanied by the usual guides (while giving high fives to the Koreans). We were able to talk and dance with the local people in the parks and on the squares of the capital. It is still highly controlled of course but it has a much relaxer feel. When we showed our travels all over the world on our Samsung high end smartphones to our guides and other people there was interest and they were clearly impressed. Sooner or later these insights in the outer world will lead to change and it will break there propagandist view of the outside world. Although this is a very interesting documentary it just touches the outer layer of the systems without giving much insight into the deeper aspects of this intriguing country. I will return to North Korea just like I visited the eastern European countries after the fall of communism!

8 years ago

This documentary seemed extremely biased. It was all based on the opinion and thoughts of the narrator.

10 years ago

Many of you simply do not know or refuse to find the truth when you state things like "where is the evidence of the cruelty of this government? I do not see it here." Or "You could compare this to America, capitalism is bad, communism is bad..."
This has nothing to do with capitalism or communism.
North Korea is run by a totalitarian government.

Of course you do not see true evidence of the harshness here.
This is filmed by tourists. Visitors.
Do you realize how brainwashed and well groomed these people are made to be? Did you not hear how it was explained that people rehearse, keep posts at museums in the offhand chance that an outsider comes in? That regular citizens of North Korea are not to speak to or even look at outsiders? Why do you think that is? Because their reactions have not been pre-approved by the government, and they do not want any outsider hearing or seeing anything they don't want them to. How about when the defector mentioned that the citizens are "In fear, always?" In the film, you see mindless, extreme obedience.
How does one get that from such a sizeable population?
How about the secretly filmed footage of individuals cooking tree bark just to keep hunger at bay?
They have to uphold an image.

This documentary is nothing but barely scratching the surface. You have heard and seen nothing of the truth of North Korea through this; you have seen the cardboard kingdom, but you have not seen the truth of what happens to its residents. The only way to ever hear the truth about North Korea is to hear it from a North Korean who managed to escape..

To get a true taste of the reality that being born and raised in North Korea really means, look up the documentary Kimjongilia.
You can find it on Netflix. It depicts life in North Korea from the perspective of individuals who escaped their prison camps. It is a series of real life accounts from North Koreans who escaped.

Prison camps are where you end up if you do not walk the walk and talk the talk in North Korea, as the individuals of this documentary were made to do for their guests.

10 years ago

Look I don't doubt for a second that Americans did certain wrong things during the Korean war.. It's WAR. Everybody does wrong things during a war.

You can't always believe a western point of view. Simply because we're not allowed there. And if we DO get in (like these folks or the Vice team) we only see what they want us to see. But we can't believe the North Korean point of view either because these people are allowed to know even less.

there is only one point of view that i can take very serious and THAT is the point of view of DEFECTED North Koreans. Because they lived there, WERE part of the system, got out and now see things from another point of view (from China, South Korea or, in very rare cases, a western point of view). They are the ones we need to listen to.

It is interesting to listen to Song Byeok, the ex propaganda artist now living outside the country. He continues to create in the same style, but it now criticizes and pokes fun at the Regime instead of praising it. he said a huge eye opener was when he visited the USA and the kindness and good will he felt from the people he met. Far from the anarchy and gangs he expected, he encountered a warm and friendly and happy place. He talks about it a bit in various articles and on his facebook page. He was especially impressed with freedom of expression. As am I. I don't live in the USA and my country doesn't have total freedom of expression. (Though i, and many people i know, protest this by exercising our right to it anyway :D) and I think this freedom must have been very overwhelming to him.

He's quite an interesting and lovely person.

10 years ago

its not that hard to believe people there are so willing to believe the stories they are fed when they are cut off from any conflicting ideas. russell's teapot and all that...

11 years ago

The syntax in this documentary is extremely biased and blinkered. It takes away from what could be a decent docu, but using words such as "the Koreans are marched into the museum" is flagrant. They probably walked normally into the museum but the vocabulary used by the narrator implies more. There are many more examples like this, meaning it is difficult to take the docu seriously

11 years ago

Pity the don't have Oil USA would be in there in no time, and no doubt find another dictator to run the place.

11 years ago

at the 16 30 min the refugee from Nk tells us in the interview he worked for the propaganda and was ordered to go 40 km outside the city and than the commentator says that he had to make an effort to fin the petrol with some help from his colegues...i mean the mean propaganda machine didnt had gasoline ??

11 years ago

no doubt that the gov of N K dose some terrible things , but i think the american one (and others) did a lot more(we all know about the multi-wars fought all over the world ) and did not even had the excuses that these pour people do ( i mean the lack of land ,electricity and trading)
so i guess if we compare the worst of each it might be a photo finish

11 years ago

"A lie cannot live."~Martin L. King, Jr.

11 years ago

It’s was truly fascinated, this video is like movie from another planet, no doubt about it. Very sad. I lived in communist regime and I truly know what it is about. But do you know what is really sad? Once in the future if this regime will collapse, I do believe that nothing will happen to these communist leaders, they will quickly adapt to the new situation (they have money, friends somewhere…) The same happened after the World War II after Nazi Germany collapsed (many Good Arian Germans, members of party, simply moved to Brazil and another countries), the same happened in the East Europe when communism collapsed (after the 1989), communist ideologists are now successful capitalists managers, their rosy life goes on. Believe me! Really sad.

11 years ago

All people have to feel guilty because nobody`s doing something to save the poor people of North Korea : Even God has to be ashamed about what is going on in lots places on Earth . Slaves are all around the planet but North Korea is on the first place .

11 years ago

For the ignorant, our media can be as good as any dictatorship for the misleading of the public's insight. Having friends from around the globe, understand you're blessed to be an American (I believe the same...) But take the time to understand both sides of international stories and come to your own conclusion. I have friends in/from China, Egypt, Germany, UK, Kenya, South Africa, Mexico, Laos, etc and you can ask any of them about the same story and I guarantee you they all tell you something along a pro or anti line depending on the countries it effect and makes appear bad... Make up your own mind by knowing the reality of your own country and those you may disagree with. Most importantly stay open minded... Really interested to see how they all respond to the passing of the "dictator"/"dear leader" Kim!

11 years ago

I love the amount of bias this has and how many Americans and others swallow it whole. Obviously Korea was in the toilet for nearly a decade after the head of the whole system had collapsed. After the official end of Communist Russia in 1991, all countries that once depended on trade with USSR experienced a huge economic setback. Same happened with Cuba and China.
What is shown in North Korea is what could potentially be the situation of the whole world if the U.S or the E.U economies collapse. Just look what have a few economic hiccups have done to the whole global economy dependant on the U.S. You people live in a fairy tale, too unhooked from the reality that could potentially blast you in the face and make you realise that misery is not as far away as you think it may be.

11 years ago

I seriously cannot believe people exist in a world like this. How terrible for these poor people! America has it's fair share of problems...but after watching this, I am still extremely grateful to be an American!!

11 years ago

"Toy" please go back to school and learn how to spell.

11 years ago

Great promo. Can't wait to visit. Time to cancel that trip to Hawaii.

11 years ago

This is truly fascinating. I really love learning about this country, it is so alien and reflective of a different time. By no means is this good, it's sad to see people so isolated, repressed and poor...all while thinking their leader is a God. But, there has to be some macabre desire to witness such a strange land, no where else in the world is like this.

The socialization is so powerful, there doesn't even need to be police stationed everywhere to convince people they are being watched. Or, people don't have to be forced to go to the shrine (although I'm sure if they walk past it, they know someone is watching them, so they must). I honestly think these people genuinely think of their leader as an infallible superhuman.

On a side note, I did laugh when she referred to Americans as Yankees. Imagine if you went to an American museum and the tour guide called the Vietnamese "gooks" or the Germans "krauts." I would laugh out of how awkward the situation would be...

12 years ago

wait did he say hatred against america.. humiliate captured enemys?
America: hate "terrorist" (witch can be any country) and wait didnt we see some naked arabs in USA militery base.. wtf? something spooky going on here.. How can "democrecy" (aka kapitalism aka terrorism) be soo alike communism?

12 years ago

communism is just another word for dictatorship

12 years ago

George Orwell's 1984 in real-time and real-life

12 years ago

N.Korea reminds me the game BIOSHOCK..."Im Andrew Ryan and i am ur leader!"...RAPTURE: Isolated city, paranoia, strict rules and an a**hole as a leader....

12 years ago

A lot of what we know about the country is western fabrication. The only real problem I see with the country is the leadership... genuine totalitarian rule. Now I'm not against authoritarianism but its extremes are never good (unless you find a really really good ruler). But as for the economy, its probably the most leftist if you ask me.

12 years ago

I've seen other videos about N Korea. It is always so surreal as to how big of a deal the so called tour guides make of what would just be everyday things in other parts of the world. Who cares about an adjustable desk? A tape recorder with a translation for a 1985 computer manual is also pretty insignificant.

12 years ago


12 years ago

This country reminds me of a lemonade stand we put together in the 1st grade. We had this whole huge show of a cardboard lemon tree and giant signs with carefully drawn lemons peppered all up and down the street. And the only people to buy any lemonade were our parents.

12 years ago

Sad! great doc. very effective.

12 years ago

The government should be afraid of the people

12 years ago

This documentary is bias. They had their view of North Korea before they even started filming.

Arnold Vinette
12 years ago

This was a very interesting video on how effectively a government can control its people. I do not know anything about North Korea and so this video was very enlightening.

That said for such a repressive government their buildings seem to be very advanced and modern.

The arts are flourishing and entertainment seems to be every where.

So there is an input coming from somewhere.

Watching this video and the North Korean government control of the people I can't help but think of the stories that the Americna government tells its own people and uses mass media to reinforce the message over and over.

However because of the open nature of our North American society the Government has to be especially good at not only planting the message but making sure it remains true.

I really have to hand it to governments and how they control people. I am amazed at how easily I am fooled by mass media in North America form what is told and not told.

Very interesting video.

Thank you Vlakto for finding it and addign it.

Arnold Vinette
Ottawa, Canada

12 years ago

This documentary not only reminds me of the "Christian" beliefs and practices, it also reminds me of the exact way that US Christians behave and devote their lives within the religion. They follow the rules and show tremendous emotion for something they have been told is infallible and absolute truth. Those that do not subscribe to it are subject to fear and excommunication, or are labeled as traitors and foolish, doomed for an afterlife of eternal hell fire.. Amazing..

12 years ago

Let's face it...

People in N. Korea don't get to eat. That's a problem.

The poorest people in America eat like kings compared to ordinary people in many communist countries.

That's why we are FAT.

Yes, capitalism has its issues... like the uneconomical wasting of natural resources, and destruction of the environment... but at least our people get to eat. And eat well.

But I don't think a more communistic approach to an economy is bad necessarily, but the communistic approach should be voluntary, like part of the culture... not as a result of government force.

For example...

Many people here in the U.S. recycle. Why? Not because of government force... but because of education of it's importance.

Capitalism works, but more emphasis needs to be put on protecting on environment and resources, and less on having more sh*t than the guy next door.

In other words, having the big, fancy gas guzzling SUV or the flashy, high hp sports car should be frowned upon rather than put on a pedestal. Instead of everybody wanting to be rich in order to have a 10,000 sq ft house and 5 car garage, they should want to be rich so they can help other people in need.

We need to stop glorifying the NBA star with his fancy whip and instead give our glory to the philanthropist or the Mother Teresa type.

12 years ago

@ John Myere

It's propaganda, North Korea is not a prison. They have freedoms just like us, only very strict laws.

All said and done, The United States could learn a thing or two them on manners and how to pick your garbage.

John Myere
12 years ago

What a great video. But i'd still like to know more about the people. For instance, how do you get a date? You can't exactly go out for coffee, or better yet how do u throw a birthday party? In fact it seems like in another 50 years everyone in the country will have died of starvation anyways!

12 years ago


One example of communism failing doesn't mean it can't work anywhere/ever... You didn't succeed the first time you tried to ride a bike, did you? Also there's a big difference between theoretical ideology and ideology put into practice, in which case the unforseeable effects of the 'human factor' play a role.

As 'Openminded' said, in a world where many/most of the countries have (sadly?) embraced capitalism, I hope you can imagine it being hard to try and run a country by using another system... You could maybe compare it to a group of friends (say in 2010) in which one person doesn't have internet; he would miss a lot of stuff the other people would know about. Yet your grandfather, who lived his childhood in a group of friends and in a time where noone had internet, probably grew up to be a perfectly normal dude! :)

In general I'd have to agree that many times people look at another culture with the mindset of their own culture and don't like or approve of what they see, while people are able to function and enjoy themselves perfectly within that other culture... although I'm not sure if that's the case with NK. To a degree I think it's indeed more of a human rights issue; freedom of speech, sufficient nutrition, etc are rights any responsable government should guarantee for their citizens, but we should also try to understand not every right we (the western world) perceive as 'normal' is valued as much in other cultures. And they have every right not to do so!

12 years ago

I think the world isolate North Korea just as much as North Korea is rejecting most many of the things that exist in the modern world, and they do not succumb to our mass corporations and popular culture.

The people seem happy, people say there is dictatorship yet I do not see any guns pointed at the civilians.

I do not see North Koreans getting hurt by their own, I see North Korea's relations with the outside world hurt.

They are not materialistic like us yet people demonize them.

North Korea is the real Korea and remember it was the Americans that had caused so much problems for a divided country.

I find that most of the negative comments against N. Korea is rather repetitive, a type of propaganda itself that has been feed to us.

Why? because everyone says the same thing and there is no solid proof backing the claims.

Nobody knows much about North Korea so I wonder where all this information comes from?

worker bee
12 years ago

I wonder which is worse... To be one of the masses who actually believe that BS because they have been cut off form any possible way of knowing the truth. Or to be one of the few who know how much they are being manipulated by the government and that to speak is to die... And for those of you praising the US. they have committed many atrocities worldwide themselves. Do some research.

12 years ago

There are amazingly many similarities in totalitarian societies in the post-cold war world. But the one I find the most telling is that in the vast majority, the state is stuck in a time-warp of its own devising and uses the US as a get-out clause/ steam vent for domestic tensions. While life gets worse and worse, people are told relentlessly that they are getting better and better. And that if only the US would butt out, everything would be better.

Logic sits abandoned in a corner and weeps.

12 years ago

This isn't a political issue at all. I'm opposed to both unfettered capitalism and unfettered communism. When one side controls everything, tragedy ensues and totalitarian regimes are instated. Both government and the free market need each other in order to balance the scales.

This is a human rights issue, plain and simple. If North Korea were an unfettered capitalist state and still suffered under the same conditions, my critique would be absolutely identical.

Don't make this political. It distorts the debate and forces us to focus on the politics instead of the people.

12 years ago

I am both shocked and disgusted by the pro-DPRK comments here which equate criticism of DPRK with xenophobia.

Kim Il-Sung and now Kim Jong-Il have brutalized the North Koreans for half a century. Their people starve in the streets, their economy is in the toilet, they are told they have freedom of religion and of the press yet anyone who tries to exercise these rights are sent to labor camps where rape, murder, and torture are common.

Anyone who shrugs this all off as "cultural differences" is a horrible excuse for a human being.

12 years ago

Lets throw down the political debate for a second. This is a human rights issue. These people have been lied to through a military propaganda leadership. Communist or Democracy, I do not care. If I saw this is America, I would be infuriated also. The leadership of NK is destroying a beautiful culture. It really does sadden me. (sad face)

12 years ago

Did you know the the North Korean soccer team that failed in the world cup 20 years ago were all sent to prison camps!!!!!! Yes, it's true. I wonder if this current team that "failed" their loving leader are now suffering the same fate. I'm not expecting to ever see a single one again play in another World Cup or otherwise.

I'm too fearful of N.K. to even mention my name here and I wish we didn't even have to leave an e-mail address to comment.

Gogu is truly a fool. Turn around before it's too late for you and your whole family.

Andrew Mead
12 years ago

I find it appalling that the people of N. Korea can plainly see their leader is overweight in glaring contrast to virtually all other N. Koreans whom, I think, get just enough food to prevent malnutrition but not enough to ward off an appetite for food that, I suspect, is seldom satisfied.
What in heavens name goes on outside the capital, where they do not permit tourism, must be horrible.
This is not a developing nation or even a third world nation. It's insanity--all for the sake of keeping Kim ill alive and comfortable.

13 years ago

Very political indeed. What is our world coming to-really. I feel like we are more messed up today than we have ever been. Its a Global issue for sure and I feel for the innocent children.

13 years ago

Why is nearly every single man named Kim something? Does anyone know?

13 years ago

A fascinating doc, its amazing how brainwashing can really f*** people up, and sad how when so many people are f****d up how it messes up an entire nation.

The scary thing is that it reminds me of some religions and the blind allegiance the followers pay to the leader of their religion, which is ironic as North Korea is a communist nation.

13 years ago

To the two communists, the fact that you can't defend your ideology except by criticizing capitalism proves how vapid and naive a concept is communism. Capitalism puts food on the table, literally, while communism has been responsible for the greatest man-made famines in history.

13 years ago

Divide and conquer, thats what they do,
thats what they have done.
Western worlds look into your own backyards.
Where is the smuggled out doc of the American defectors who were taken in and lived a life in Nth Korea, married & showed a lifestyle contradictive to this.
More like Henrys anti commo campain.............

13 years ago

o and by the way, long live the hammer and the sickle , and the red star!