North Korea: It might not get weirder than this

by thewheatandthechaff


Sophie Schmidt, the daughter of Google’s Executive Chairman Eric, recently accompanied her father on his recent controversial trip to North Korea and has written about her time there. The best way to sum up her post, in the words of Sophie: “it’s like The Truman Show, at country scale.” 

I can only assume that Sophie used a North Korean web browser and blog site to put the post together, however, as the formatting is truly terrible. But it’s worth struggling through if you can!

A more illuminating, irreverent and yet still truly terrifying account of North Korea was produced famously by Vice a few years back. After bribing officials, it obtained tourist visas to visit Pyongyang, the capital of the most secretive state in the world. One thing you are expressly forbidden to do when visiting is film things.

“From the first minute I got there, I was shit scared” admits Vice Co-Founder Shane Smith at the start of the film. He then proceeds to spend most of the rest of the hour long documentary looking for hidden surveillance devices in his room, eating alone in eerie, empty banqueting halls and being taken to designated tourist sites and choreographed public events while trying to slip away from Government officials.

At one point, he gets his ever-present minder drunk on blueberry wine and the two of them almost get into a fight. At another he is nearly jailed for filming in the wrong place. But the finale, involving an ill chosen Karaoke number, is the high watermark. This is gonzo journalism at its finest.

The three parts are below, and are well worth your time if you’ve not seen them before: