National Geographic Explorer: Season 21, Episode 14

Inside North Korea (27 Feb. 2007)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 218 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

Posing as a medical coordinator, Lisa Ling gains access to North Korea offering viewers a chance to see inside the "Hermit Kingdom".



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Title: Inside North Korea (27 Feb 2007)

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Episode credited cast:
Michael Breen ...
Himself - Author, 'The Koreans'
Brian Green ...
Kim Il-Sung ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Il Sung Kim)
Kim Jong-il ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Jong-il Kim)
Ahn Myong ...
Himself - Former North Korean Prison Guard
Sanduk Ruit ...
Himself - Eye Surgeon (as Dr. Sanduk Ruit)
Joo Sung Il ...
Himself - North Korean Defector
John W. Towers ...
Himself (as Colonel John W. Towers)
Norbert Vollertsen ...
Himself - Human Rights Activist
Chun Ki Won ...
Himself - Pastor, Human Rights Activist


Posing as a medical coordinator, Lisa Ling gains access to North Korea offering viewers a chance to see inside the "Hermit Kingdom".

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

27 February 2007 (USA)  »

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Features North Korea: A Day in the Life (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Some Cataracts Remain
30 May 2010 | by (Palo Alto, CA, USA) – See all my reviews

I was looking forward to this documentary, but left quite dissatisfied by it. It seems the filmmakers are more than content to turn on the fog machine of malevolent mystery. Now granted getting access to North Korea is a feat in itself, but the self-congratulatory attitude at their mission's outset and the titillation of a cameraman being told to leave the country the next day, these to me indicate people who are happier with the myths, rather than trying to see through the haze.

Some lip-service is paid to the notion that Koreans may have felt run over by foreign nations so severely in the past, that thus they might invite a strong protector. In this day and age of instant communication and the internet's tentacles slipping and sliding over the world and under fences, the very notion of a Hermit Kingdom is astounding. And yet there, across the DMZ, we see it.

Attaching this documentary to the noble efforts of Dr. Sanduk Ruit to bring sight to the poor, cataract struck citizens of the world, begs for an overriding theme of illumination. Instead we get a propped up interview with a chosen Korean family, and while I know that was going to be PR poisoned I thought the filmmaker/interviewer's handling was clumsy and "fake tough." And that was before the "dramatic reenactment" of the soldier escaping after some sort of accidental broadcast. Even that felt like we were getting 1/10th of the story, and that there was a real story there.

Anyways, after the recent sinking of the Cheonan, I can only feel more mysterious malevolence will be exploited, if not manufactured. Again, don't get me wrong, I don't think that Kim Jong Il is some kind of hero. He is clearly an anachronism, and an astounding one...but the people of North Korea deserve better than he can offer, and better than this film provides.

One other note, the IMDb listing does not even include Dr. Ruit. I wonder if he did not want to be attached to this film in its final form as well. Truly his work is inspirational from what I could tell here, and as for the reactions of the 1000 or so recipients, well clearly desperate people under a desperate regime might not exactly have the most honest of reactions, while at the same time being honestly overjoyed at their rare good luck.

5 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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