The Vice Guide to North Korea

The Vice Guide to North Korea

59 minutes 7.44/10 based on 18 votes

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, North Korea officials 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 onstage 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…

— Shane Smith, founder of VICE

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7.44/10 (18 votes)

Discuss This Documentary

5 responses to “The Vice Guide to North Korea”

  1. Ella says:

    Holy shit! I can’t believe he sang Anarchy in a communist country :D :D This guy is my hero.

  2. Whoops! says:

    Highly recommended. But watch with a friend as you may need therapy afterwards. This is down the rabbit hole strange on a big scale. If you do not weep for the North Koreans after seeing this then surely something essential is missing from your heart.

  3. Stain says:

    This is really good, in that you get to go on a little North Korea Field trip. Smith seems like a film school butt munch and I am amazed he didn’t get his dumb ass locked up. Even so, I’m glad I get to see this weird place.

    …makes you want to rescue some North Koreans.

  4. Candace K says:

    Video does not exist :(

  5. I wonder if the makers of the Vice Guide were shortchanged in their tours… this guy seemed to have experienced something quite different:

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