North Korea: VICE Guide on The Darkest of Countries
March 31, 2008 | by 孫子

North Korea has had it’s share of coverage on Weird Asia News for being so… well… weird. We have reported on North Korea publicly executing people for using cell phones, eating dog meat to help deal with summer heat, and how their own leader is a better golfer than Tiger Woods.

North Korea has always been somewhat a place of mystery, due to strict rules against media and journalist entering, or reporting, about anything within their country. Even when foreigners are allowed to enter the country, they must be escorted by secret police and government officials at all times.


Even North Koreans themselves are extremely controlled. There is a cable radio system that is wired into almost all establishments and provides the news and commentary to most North Koreans. There is a limited number of radio stations or television stations, all of which are controlled by the government. So much is the control on media that most North Koreans do not even have cameras or internet access at all.

So when the opportunity came up for a small group of reporters to be allowed entrance into the country to cover the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang, VBS decided to step up and take the risk to hopefully bring back some insights on the infamous communist country of North Korea.

VBS, an online broadcast network from VICE magazine, had issues from day one.

“Getting into North Korea was one of the hardest and weirdest processes…” “They finally said they were going to allow 16 journalists into the country. 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.” 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.”

VBS finally got the “go ahead” to visit North Korea and brought back a series of 14 videos on North Korea, which they are releasing on their website – The VICE Guide to North Korea. So risky was their endeavor that they were almost charged with a criminal offense for recording when they were not supposed to.

Here are a few of our favorites and make sure to head over and catch the whole series. You will not be disappointed:

Sun Tzu has spent about 7 years in Asia traveling through Japan, Hong Kong, China, and Korea. A true fan of everything that is weird and strange, he decides in the end what is displayed and published on this site. Sun has previous experience writing for numerous print mags such as XLR8R, URB, and Movement Magazine.

Latest posts by 孫子 (see all)

  • HA HA ! FIRST~
    but that’s messed up man…
    so many people being controlled….

  • man, now that is weird.

  • it’s amazing what people will do at gun-point.

  • Heck of a place… wonder how the North Korean people will react when this sham of a state finally collapses and they realize they’ve been lied to for decades.

  • Part of it’s @ gun-point. Another part is that they actually LIKE being held at gun-point. They LOVE Kim Jeong Ill.
    Fuckin’ scary

  • OMG!!!! North Korea pisses me off so much. I just want to scream at that lady doing the tour of the USS Pueblo “Don’t you know you could have a much better life in Seoul?!?!?!?! Don’t you know you’ve been brainwashed all your life??” Did she say DEMOCRATIC People’s Republic of Korea???? Democratic?!?! Are you kidding me??? The People in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are being BRAINWASHED by this prat Kim Jong Il and his predecessors!!!!!!!!!!!

    I used to substitute teach while I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I’m a guy, I’m big and I can be loud, and I don’t take any crap from the little kids. I don’t mistreat nobody, but I don’t take no crap. I hollered at several kids, but with the cool kids I was lenient, so I quickly got a reputation not to mess with this sub, cause he will find a way to mess with you. I just wanted to state that because I went to High School, too and I messed with the subs. I wouldn’t take it. I take pride in the fact that I was not a sub to be sunk.

    Anyways, we had an issue of Times Magazine for Kids in a 7th grade Civics class about 3 years ago and there was an article written by the son of a diplomat from N. Korea to S. Korea. When this kid got to Seoul, he said “Holy Smokes!!! Look at all this stuff that I now have available to me!!!!” The kid wrote that one time back in N. Korea he found a chip packet floating in the breeze. He didn’t know what it was, but the colorful display and the pictures and the words really enticed him. Obviously it had floated on the breeze across the border, but he didn’t know what magical thing it was that he held in his hands. Then he gets to Seoul and finds that he can buy this thing in any shop for $0.50. “What a beautiful place this is!!” He exclaimed!! All over a bag of Lays.

    A child and a package of crisps is one thing (I just thought it a good example of the repression they feel in N. Korea. But this is even better.) There was a show on Nat Geo or Discovery channel (Sorry details fuzzy, this was at least 2 years ago.) where some Western ophthalmologists (American, German, English, French, Australian? I dunno. The interviewer didn’t really talk to the doctors, he just watched them work and viewed the response they got.) went to Pyongyang to do surgery on the Korean’s eyes. Cataracts, glaucoma, I don’t remember the problem, but lots of people had it, and it was caused by the poor diet imposed by the assholes in the government. People in Pusan don’t have this problem, why should people in Hamhung??? Oh yeah, it’s because they can’t get the proper nutrition they need to stay healthy, so then they go blind by the cataracts or glaucoma or whatever it was these doctors were there to cure them of. And what do these poor, misguided souls say when they can see again? “Oh, thank you Kim Jong Il the great god and provider for restoring my sight!” You, poor schlub, HE’S THE ONE THAT CAUSED YOU TO LOSE YOUR SIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!!!! You don’t see people randomly going blind in Taegu or Taejon, because they are PROPERLY FED!!

    They seriously see Kim Jong Il as a god.

    I hate seeing innocent people brainwashed.

    Though, I must admit, Kim Jong Il does put on a good show. That first video, I wish I was there to see it first hand, because I know the video did NOTHING to represent the grandiosity of that performance. It must be easy to get 120,000 performers when you have properly brainwashed almost 23.5 million people.

    Can you tell this pisses me off.

    My family is from Norway and Scotland. I have nothing to do with Korea. The closest connection I have to Korea is a friend of mine who is Korean, but grew up adopted in Minnesota and is almost as white (culturally) as I am. I only get this pissed off because I see these people suffering for NOTHING!!! Only because Kim Jong Il and his predecessors like power.

    What do you do?

  • 阿拉看不懂啊~~

  • What? NO ONE else found that insanely amazing? (first video). If it wasn’t North Korea, you’d call it art.
    Everyone’s focusing on the “North Korea -> communist repressive country -> bad” part. Well, we know it is. But it doesn’t really have much to do with this article specifically, apart from the videos showing just how repressive this country is.

    • It’s not that it’s not amazing. It is. It’s that the people don’t really have a choice to do it. You might be missing the point that that might only be possible because of WHY they have to do it and HOW they are being forced to do it. Think about it, if you mess up, execution. That’s a work ethic. Yea, as I said, you are right.. it’s amazing. But think of the how/why/who and then it’s like oh,… well.. they could be free people doing better things with their lives. Poor people..

  • it’s the last place on the unviverse where I ‘d want to end up. how…..brutal and…terrifying…and…help me to find other words?!?

  • “North Korea has had IT IS share of coverage”

  • that video is cool. kim really is an artist.


  • Brendan, you’re as much in the dark as the North Korean people if you think that Kim had anything to do with the design of that “show”. He decreed it; his indentured slaves created it. The sad thing is that they have no idea, however you should know better.

  • Watching 120,000 people dancing on the ends of strings is seriously creepy.

  • The Philippines needs a Kim Jeong Ill.

  • The politics in The Philippines may be corrupt, but they do not need another dictatorship. Didn't you learn anything from the Marcos regime?

  • Son of Kim Jeong

    Someone kill my father. He didn't get me the car that I wanted and he's a bully.

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