The Vice Guide to Travel: North Korea

Getting into North Korea was one of the hardest and weirdest processes VBS has ever dealt with.

“After we went back and forth with their representatives for months, they finally said they were going to allow 16 journalists into the country to cover the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang.

Then, ten days before we were supposed to go, they said, No, nobody can come. Then they said, OK, OK, you can come. But only as tourists. We had no idea what that was supposed to mean. They already knew we were journalists, and over there if you get caught being a journalist when you’re supposed to be a tourist you go to jail.

We don’t like jail. And we’re willing to bet we’d hate jail in North Korea. But we went for it. The first leg of the trip was a flight into northern China.

At the airport, the North Korean consulate took our passports and all of our money, then brought us to a restaurant. We were sitting there with our tour group, and suddenly all the other diners left and these women came out and started singing North Korean nationalist songs.

We were thinking, Look, we were just on a plane for 20 hours. We’re jet-lagged. Can we just go to bed? but this guy with our group who was from the LA Times told us, Everyone in here besides us is secret police. If you don’t act excited then you’re not going to get your visa.

So we got drunk and jumped up on stage and sang songs with the girls. The next day we got our visas. A lot of people we had gone with didn’t get theirs. That was our first hint at just what a freaky, freaky trip we were embarking on.”

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  1. I feel exactly the same. It makes me angry to see people like that

  2. this is without any doubt the worst white trash piece of documentary I have ever seen in my entire life. I’m ashamed for him even though we don’t even share the same nationality. what a dick ..

  3. With all of the shit this guy pulled during his visit I’m absolutely shocked he didn’t end up in jail. As twisted as North Korea’s government is and as sad as the lives of it’s citizens makes me feel (the “Tea Girl” really stuck out to me) I’ve gotta say I wouldn’t blame them if they did lock him up. He made a mockery of their culture and beliefs on multiple occasions and was generally a tactless rudeass. He really accomplished little more than showing us his profound ignorance and enforcing NK’s negative perception of Americans. I feel he could have at a minimum cleaned up his appearance, and this is coming from a heavily tattooed guy who hasn’t shaved in weeks. I did however enjoy this film and being able to see into a country that has its true colors so heavily distorted to the outside world.

  4. …last chapter….singing  “Anarchy in the UK” by Sex Pistols in Nth Korea…priceless…..

  5. Having viewed subsequently-more NK documentaries-the situation is dire or worse fatal for the poor ordinary citizen.  I hope that the women I mentioned earlier -are well-and safe.

  6. Not overlooking the well made points of criticism of this production here-there is one facet of North Korea that is appealing.   Forgive apparent patriarchy; when I say-‘the women in PRNK-on this evidence-are exquisite’.  
     Notwitstanding all the evils of a repressive regime(male);it is less with irony than with sincere admiration-that I opine that women on parade are impressive and their sisters ‘in the other service industry’ seemingly have not lost the art of good-natured flirting -and it’s just charming.
     I’d risk disgraced deportation for an afternoon of tea and table tennis. ‘Pun Yun Shi-I like you -and that’s all I’m saying for now!
     I wouldn’t at all mind less food (an empty dining area-is often a plus)-if only to see these elegant ladies ‘do their thing’.   None of them seem as affected; even relative to their neighbours to the south. 

     By this maladapted regime-and their circumstance -they are literally unspoilt-to a degree which is admirable-for it’s adaptation to stoicism with grace.  Good on them!.   I hope their lives will improve greatly-soon.
     Maurice O’Sullivan Aherne

  7. feel sorry for those people trapped in NK… too bad NK doesn’t have the balls to let their people have freedom

  8. I did cringe a few times, especially during the karaoke in episode 14. Painful to watch. Thought they might get arrested for that! 
    Did they not know that the tour guides are punished if they cause offence? They were a few times when I thought, no wonder the Tour Guides are getting angry!! So from that, the Documentary was ok but they could have used more tact and a little bit more respect in some parts

  9. Oh dear, hardly a documentation of any sort. I only pushed myself to watch up to the 5th or so clip but oh my is this a real journalist? His methodology for understanding is laced with ignorance and his predisposition is hardly worth making a documentary about.

    He may as well have sat at home and written which ever thoughts opinions popped into mind.

  10. Oh dear, hardly a documentation of any sort. I only pushed myself to watch up to the 5th or so clip but oh my is this a real journalist? His methodology for understanding is laced with ignorance and his predisposition is hardly worth making a documentary about.

    He may as well have sat at home and written which ever thoughts opinions popped into mind.

  11. After watching this i am now convinced the party will take care of us all, if we can only stop the yanky imperialists! deep subliminals…

  12. anyone found a link that doesn’t involve us watching 14 different 4 min parts?

  13. This is definately worth watching 🙂

    • It’s no, unless you wish to watch one man’s ignorance and sole foucus of reinforcing his preconceptions.

      Mind you I think you post is simply a method of insert spam links to your bullshit website.

  14. Jinky sounds like he’s uncomfortably anal retentive.

  15. Jinky sounds like he’s uncomfortably anal retentive.

    • Believeinjake, you have no evidence to make such a claim, although I’d be interested in hearing from you why you managed to arrive at such a distorted opinion.

  16. That ill son does virtue to his name. I treat the virtual inhabitants of video games I play, with more respect than he has with “his” people…

  17. Why is it that the singing choir of male voices on the soundtrack seems to me to sound like Russian?

    • Because it is the Russian Soviet Choir singing. Ignorant makers of the film obviously oblivious.

      •  The music is actually the DPRK Army Choir. Some of it is in the wrong place, though; for example, the Kim Jong Il song plays when they’re at the Kim Il Sung statue. The Kim Il Sung song is the one that plays over the Arirang footage.

  18. This video contains misinformation: the claims that it is very difficult to visit N.Korea is crap. It is relatively easy to have a holiday in the country providing you book with one of the accredited tour companies, for example Koryo Tours with whom I have no affiliation.

    What is more difficult is to visit if you’re Amercian and / or journalist.

    I wonder why the makers of video neglected to mention this? Could it be, perhaps, that distorting facts and misleading viewers makes for a more noteworthy story? Certainly the result is pompous, self-righteous, ignorant, macho posturing. Also, the commentary track was incredibly rude & patronising to some of the (non-government, non-military) N.Korean’s he met.

    (and in advance of any accusations I do not work for the N.Korean regime nor am a supporter .. I just resent distortion and deception.)

    • Sorry mate but you seem to have contracted the sickness known as “Niggeritis” please consult your nearby executioner ASAP.

    • “What is more difficult is to visit if you’re Amercian and / or journalist.”
      Er…. you just confirmed why it was hard for them to get into North Korea in the first place so its hardly “misinformation”. They are American AND journalists AND they are filming which is strictly banned for individuals planning to travel to N.Korea as Tourists

      So as for “distortion and deception”… wow strong words. Take a chill pill man, you are too serious

  19. mad!

  20. part 14 the karioke. That must be as close to jail you can get! 🙂

  21. So sad, strange, but interesting.

  22. If this guy had some sort of knowledge of Asian culture and history, I might trust his speculations about what he sees around him. However, he ends up sounding a bit like an ignorant white guy who misunderstands his surroundings.