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National Geographic - Inside North Korea

58 customer reviews

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(Mar 20, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Join National Geographic's Lisa Ling as she captures a rare look inside North Korea - something few Americans have ever been able to do. Posing as an undercover medical coordinator and closely guarded throughout her trip, Lisa moves inside the most isolated nation in the world, encountering a society completely dominated by government and dictatorship. Glimpse life inside North Korea as you've never seen before with personal accounts and powerful footage. Witness first-hand efforts by humanitarians and the challenges they face from the rogue regime.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: National Geographic Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 20, 2007
  • Run Time: 52 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000M2E34K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,373 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Robert Ryder on December 6, 2007
Format: DVD
Everyone should see this documentary about what must be the worst country in the world. I can only say what so many others have said about this film.
BUT! There was one thing I noticed. The lack of respect Miss Ling and her cameraman showed sometimes. Their behaviour could've put others in GREAT danger. The first thing was when the camera man lied down on the ground to photograph a statue of Kim Il Sung. They put the guide and the security guard in GREAT danger by doing that. It was easy to see how scared he was when he said he had to leave the country. The guide/guard is the one who'll be accused for letting foreigners behave that way, and might be sent to a gulag camp. (Ms Ling and the crew must've known that it was forbidden in the first place!)
The other thing was when the team visited the old blind woman, and Ms Ling first asks what's the favorite picture of the great leader, and then asks if the great leader can do anything wrong. Had ANYONE of the North Koreans answered those questions in ANY way, it would've meant fatal consequences for them! The North Korean family had no less than six observers observers watching them, and even a fraction of doubt in the faces could've been seen as doubt to the regime. This could've meant DANGER for the family. Consentration camps, torture, execution etc.
I couldn't stop wondering what happened to the North Koreans who appeared in this movie after the film crew left. I can only hope nothing did, but I also fear the worst.
So to Ms Ling and her crew: Remember not to put your objects in danger!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By MiamiGuy on May 25, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Overall, this is a very well done production by National Geograhic and can serve as an effective introduction to the DPRK. National Geographic did a fine job covering all of the basics in terms of the history of North Korea, the Kim regime and their personality cult, the Juche philosophy, and the current state of affairs on the Korean peninsula. However, it did it all without any great detail. In that regard, this program could be considered a primer of sorts for the non-expert.

While there are some excellent interviews with North Korean defectors that provide interesting insights, from my perspective, the program's biggest weakness is the fact that it is less than an hour in length and tends to leave the viewer "wanting more." The other negative in my opinion was the choice of Lisa Ling as their correspondent. Granted, North Korea is a world unto itself and though Lisa Ling did a good enough job presenting information, there were numerous times throughout the course of the film where it became clear that she was a little out of her league (for instance, a few of the questions she asked the "typical family" whose home she was allowed to visit, were just ridiculous).

The film also does a nice job illustrating the high level of ideological indoctrination typical of the population. However, even that should be taken with a grain of salt simply because in a society that repressive where strict obedience is the difference between life and death, no outsider will ever be able to know for sure just how much of the ideology the average North Korean citizen actually believes in their heart of hearts and how much of it is merely parroted back as a means of survival. However, at this stage, perhaps that point is moot.

On balance, this is an excellent introduction to the "Hermit Kingdom," and highly recommended for anyone with even a passing interest in the one of the most closed societies in the world.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Keith Thode on March 23, 2007
Format: DVD
It's hard to imagine a society so repressed and isolated where you and your entire extended family can be placed in prison for life merely for questioning the "Dear Leader"(Kim Jong Il). This documentary revolves around a Nepalese doctor who brought his team and equipment into North Korea to perform cataract operations on 1000 blind North Koreans, and in the process, teach North Korean doctors the procedure. A news team posed as part of the medical team. Also includes interviews with defectors.
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31 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Aloysius Oneill on September 26, 2007
Format: DVD
I have written this review some months after seeing the program on television. The program undoubtedly stunned many American viewers, who could scarcely imagine a place like North Korea. Like some other reviewers, though, I am troubled by the pretenses under which the National Geographic crew and the Nepalese medical team may have gained entry to North Korea. If any of the various North Korean security services came to believe that local intermediaries of those American and Nepalese visitors were either duped or were engaging in any kind of subterfuge regarding the outsiders and their plans, those North Koreans -- and their families -- would be (or already are) in grave danger. Even unwittingly contributing to a story that would be seen as criticizing the Kim cult of personality could have severe consequences for North Korean medical personnel and others who helped the visitors. It would be reprehensible if National Geographic took chances with other people's lives to get an eye-catching story.

In their intense determination to highlight North Korea's isolation, the "star" Lisa Ling and the makers of the program also ignored some basic realities. The scenes in the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom reminded me of United Nations Command visitors' briefings at the JSA in the 1970's and 1980's. North Korea is indeed one of the world's most isolated countries and the North Korean people, except for the elite, live with appalling deprivation of all kinds, from nutrition to basic rights.
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