The Vice Guide to North Korea

Guy films his trip to North Korea and it is awesome in a welcome to 1950’s Soviet Russia kinda way.

No traffic
No restaurant reservations needed
All hotels have vacancies
Mass games is one hell of a show

Food is only almost editable
Your hotel room is bugged
Tour guides are stone face liars
Expensive and potentially dangerous

Wow. We took out the wrong dictator. Somebody needs to shank that bastard.

However, some ethnocentrism crept in a bit there in the last episode, but otherwise this is a great series. I wonder how much that cost, given he was really the only so called tourist.

this is badass… won’t watch it all tonight

nice find. ty.

N. Korea is like the Twin Peaks of countries… freaky deaky

So very sad. Kim’s people are dying from hunger and I’ve read that he has lobster tails flown to his personal train for dinner.

what, is he supposed to have them trucked? they wont be fresh.


Wow, Vice has come a long way from suggesting ice cream and ramen noodles to heroin users with upset stomachs.

Nice find. Just finished Pyonyang by Guy Delisle too so it’s great to see some video to go with the caricatures.

Finished watching them all, it’s amazing how much the ‘tour’ coincides with the graphic novel by Delisle. Outside of the visit to Arirang it was pretty much identical. Arirang was jaw dropping, made even more so by the apparent disparity between viewers and performers.

Finally finished it. You have to give the guys the “10-ton brass balls” award, but simultaneously note he’s not the most mature reporter. I also think that with a little more planning and some well-designed hidden video cameras, they could have pulled off something even better, like when the BBC caught riot police whacking on the locals.

On the one hand, I agree that I would have liked to have seen less ‘I’m a dumb American’ from the host, but then if he was really that smart, would he have been risking his life to get such video footage?

I applaud him getting this much at least, and it complements the photos and stories I’d seen and read nicely. I had seen some ‘underground’ footage at one point of someone who slipped into a village from China, I think they were originally from North Korea, and were going back to get some ‘humanitarian’ footage. The scene that I recall was pretty bad: a boy, maybe 10 years old, was trying to find food because both of his parents were dead from starvation. The others in the village were shunning him because they barely had enough food for themselves, let alone for some kid, and he was trying to stay alive eating (I think) bits of cardboard, leather, and any food that may have dropped in the walkways in the mud.

I know the Iraqis had it bad, but if we were going to play hero by invading some country, we really picked the wrong one.

Overall, he was pretty insightful and definitely entertaining. Being there their first time, I think a lot of it was just being dazed and confused by the process and setting. The anarchy in the NK was brilliant, if a little ethnocentric (“Man, they didn’t have jazz or blues! Woah!” - paraphrased).

I know the Iraqis had it bad, but if we were going to play hero by invading some country, we really picked the wrong one.
I agree. The only problem with that is China would probably freak out.

I’d say the fact that the North Korean army is the world’s fourth largest, has prepared for invasion for 50 years, and has way better defensive terrain than Iraq is a much bigger problem. Which doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it would just cost a hell of a lot more than the Iraq war.

Also, Seoul lies just by the DMZ, well within artillery (and possibly nuke) range. If they see a troop buildup in the south, which would be pretty much impossible to hide, there’s little to stop them from trying to level the city.

I liked liked that little docu-series. It was a bit odd, though, how he wonders how the North Koreans can possibly have a nuke, only to find the seller of nuclear warhead in another of his little documentaries.

BTW, the editor’s face as they go through the footage is hilarious and scary.

You have to realize where these guys have come from. Vice was started by retarded hipsters and was famous for articles such as Bukkake On My Face: Welcome to the Ancient Tradition of the Japanese Facial. There was a great piece in Wired about VBS and Vicemag a couple of month ago.

Ah, link.

Hey look, corporate Anarchy.

Either way, I actually do like what they think they’re going to accomplish, even if they’re tone is set in permanent juvenile.

Ya. I shouldn’t have inserted only. It’s just a fucked situation all around. I’m really surprised how resilient Kim Jong is, even among other high ranking officials who might be power hungry and might see Kim Jong’s insanity as justification for their own power grab.

Yeah, the main problem with doing anything about North Korea: if North Korea decides to, Seoul dies. No nukes needed; Seoul is only a few miles from the border and there is enough artillery pointed at Seoul that if North Korea decides to, they can wipe it from the map. And Seoul has over 10 million people, living mostly in very, very dense apartment complex high-rises, and is 75-80% of South Korea. Supposedly, the South Korean military (which could wipe the floor with North Korea with no help needed from anyone else - they have their own indigenous military industry thanks to Park going nationalistically paranoid after Carter threatened to pull out US troops) has been practicing at wiping out the North Korean artillery emplacements with precision munitions before they can turn Seoul into smoking slag, but it’s not something you really want to test out.

Plus, South Korea is scarily, almost psychotically in denial about the NK threat. Most South Koreans look upon North Korea not so much as a threat, but as a somewhat retarded sibling that needs to be housebroken. They’re terrified that North Korea will collapse, because the strain of absorbing the north would demolish South Korea’s economy, so there’s a lot of private investment in the North. Businesses get an unbelievably cheap labor force where labor unrest is forbidden by law and lots of guns. The North gets hard currency (most of the workers’ pay goes to the North Korean government). The South feels patriotic about helping their starving brothers and make money off the virtually forced labor.

Ironically, the level of economic investment and food aid to the North has reached such enormous levels (I saw one report that estimated that 80% of the North’s economy was dependent on South Korean economic subsidies now) that North Korea feels free to blow off China, which used to be North Korea’s main patron. When North Korea did their nuclear test, China was enraged because they got all of 15 minutes’ advanced warning. (This may change with the new conservative President, who’s promised to get tough on North Korea. Then again, it may not.) Meanwhile the South, which you’d think would be the putative target of any nuclear weapons, was pretty blase about it, for 2 reasons: 1, it was seen as a Korean weapon which the South would eventually inherit once the North ‘grows up’ and gets absorbed, and 2, both North Korea and South Korea hate Japan with a burning, fiery passion. (MMOs and Starcraft are huge in South Korea because no one ever imported any Playstations or Nintendos, so PC gaming filled the void.) Koreans on both sides of the border see North Korea’s nuclear program as a hedge against Japanese aggression. The fact that there hasn’t any Japanese aggression for 60 years isn’t very relevant. Korea was a Japanese colony before World War 2. And they’re still VERY, VERY ANGRY about it.

Korea’s a funny, funny place. Bonus points to the filmmaker for living up to the Asian stereotype of the drunken, filthy, scraggly dumb American. It’s probably why they let him in.

It’s also worth adding that the Barrage has eliminated the few resources the country had to offer to begin with. Korea in general is pretty much a wasteland.