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A State of Mind (2004)

 |  Documentary  |  2004 (UK)
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A British documentary that follows two young North Korean girls as they prepare for the Mass Games, the world's largest choreographed gymnastics performance.



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Cast overview:
Daniel Gordon ...
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Hyon Sun Pak ...
Herself - Gymnast
Song Yun Kim ...
Herself - Gymnast
Kim Jong-il ...
Himself - Supreme Leader, North Korea (archive footage) (as Jong-il Kim)
Jong Ho Kim ...
Himself - Mass Games Organizer


A British documentary that follows two young North Korean girls as they prepare for the Mass Games, the world's largest choreographed gymnastics performance.

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Release Date:

2004 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Die jungen Tänzerinnen aus Pjöngjang  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$5,515 (USA) (12 August 2005)


$41,468 (USA) (11 November 2005)

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A new look at the secretive state.
24 July 2006 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

I only began to know a bit more about North Korea thanks to my school's past social studies and history classes, where at both times the Korean War was mentioned and being discussed. It was like few years back, but at times it kept ringing in my head.

Maybe because since some time back, there has been those news reports on the tearful reunions and meetings between the ordinary families of the two Koreas. And also with all that 'Korea wave' happening (in terms of its pop culture especially) and the media liberation in South Korea, she is slowly starting to present some of its darkest moments in its history onto the screen.

Just like before the start of the documentary which I saw on the Discovery Channel, it stated that North Korea is the least visited, least known, and the least understood nation in the world. I have to agree with my heavy heart, it's true. Speaking from someone who was once a History student, it's very saddening to at times for me to read of stories of how life is like in North Korea through the papers. It's not that I want to condemn the western media, but then the world is just like that.

Are you able to determine where you should be born? If you are born into a country which has a very different system of government which may deemed so-called 'evil' to the outside world, there is no way out. Unless you know how to do something about it.

This documentary follows two girls (one belonging to the workers' class and the other - the intellectuals' class) being raised in different backgrounds in the capital of Pyongyang, and how they are preparing for their country's most spectacular and well-known event to the outside world - the Mass Games. It's kind of interesting to know that in the country itself, it has three classes - the peasants, the workers, and the intellectuals.

For all those who said that this documentary is all about propaganda and stuff like that - open your eyes, please. Which is why I said earlier it's not that I don't want to condemn the western media on their portraying of the secretive state actually. I kind of know the feeling, because living here in Singapore for my entire life, I am more or less aware how those western media at times see us. Making all our democratic system of government sounding as if it's not what a democratic country should be. As it's often being said - 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do.' How can you expect everyone to follow your style of democracy?

Back to the case of North Korea. It's kind of like a big opener to know how living in the capital is like and how kids like one of the girls being featured for this documentary went about in their daily school life. Maybe ordinary Americans may kind of wonder why the North Koreans as being shown in this documentary always blame them for whatever faults they have (like one of the families blaming the Americans for their constant blackout in the house), but then it's like, I don't know...the North Koreans are being brought up in a way that America is their biggest enemy and it stands everything what they disagree upon.

It's all comes back to a case of ideology. History has shown us what communism can do as it does for Russia and its eastern European neighbours once. But in the case of North Korea, its citizens had been taught to think in that manner. I know propaganda is involved, given it showed how they really respect their leader.

Sadly, propaganda is everywhere, though we may not want to admit it at times. I had heard the propaganda word umpteen times in my past History classes that I don't even want to think about it. We should at least count ourselves lucky we are living in a civilised world.

Overall, this is one documentary which shows how life is like in one of the least visited, least known...and the least understood nations in the world.

6 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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