North Korean Labor Camps - VICE NEWS - Part 5 of 7


Uploaded by vice on Dec 19, 2011

Transcript:

SHANE SMITH: Hello.

The next morning we got back onto our one-car train and
headed off into the wilderness.

Every once in a while, there'd be a break in the trees, and
we'd pass these massive logging camps that butted up
against the train tracks that were obviously North Korean.
We're on our little train going into the
middle of the forest.
This is a logging camps run by North Koreans.
You can see there's a North Korean flag and North Korean
propaganda in here.
There, there's some North Koreans
waving at us over there.
All this wood is going to England.
When we get off this train, [LAUGH]
we're going to go out into the campus where they actually log
out in the middle of Siberia.
Freaky, freaky business.

We finally started to approach our last stop, the tiny
logging town of Tataul.
Now Tataul is a freaky place.
It's as if the Soviets had come up to the edge of
civilization, then dropped off their Stalinists apartment
blocks in the middle of nowhere, and then gotten back
on the train and never looked back.
At the train station, we met our new driver, a colorful
local type known simply as "the Fish."
SIMON OSTROVSKY: He just brought a
shotgun into the car--
[LAUGH]
just in case.
SHANE SMITH: Dog in the sidecar.
Dog in the sidecar.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: It looks like a Doberman.
SHANE SMITH: His mouthful of gold teeth and his shiny track
suit confirmed what we already suspected--
the Fish and his crew were the local mob.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: They've actually moved here from the
camp, the abandoned camp that we visited yesterday, so--
SHANE SMITH: Right, so the camp we were at is done.
Now this is the new camp, even further afield.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: Right.
Yeah, we're going to their new camp, where they're actually
operating now.
SHANE SMITH: Ask him, maybe, if he thinks if
they'll be angry or--
IGOR "THE FISH" RYBAKOV: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
SHANE SMITH: [LAUGH]
And he brought a shotgun.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: Yeah, I think that's probably pretty useful.
SHANE SMITH: Is this the camp here?

So we're here in a North Korean logging camp in the
middle of Siberia.

SIMON OSTROVSKY: This is where they bring the logs from the
forest and put them onto railcars.

SHANE SMITH: So there's Korean propaganda.
There's some Korean writing.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: It says, "we're going to take action to
increase productivity during the winter time."
SHANE SMITH: [LAUGH]
OK.
Here comes a Russian lady that we're going to have to--
SIMON OSTROVSKY: She doesn't look happy.
SHANE SMITH: Hello.
FEMALE SPEAKER 1: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
SHANE SMITH: She immediately made a lot of phone calls and
a lot of threats.
Should we get arrested?
SIMON OSTROVSKY: Yes.
FEMALE SPEAKER 1: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

SHANE SMITH: While we were arguing with her, a van
straight out of 1957 pulled up, and, lo and behold, out
came some North Koreans.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MALE SPEAKER 1: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]
SIMON OSTROVSKY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

SHANE SMITH: Jason's gone AWOL.
He's in the camp.
Jason's being shuttled back to fucking Pyongyang as we speak.
Jason, our producer, slipped away with a small camera and
started filming the camp.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

MALE SPEAKER 2: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

SIMON OSTROVSKY: He's saying we've got to get permission
from the embassy before we can show anything.
MALE SPEAKER 2: [SPEAKING KOREAN]

SHANE SMITH: Now what he was saying was a revelation.
We had come all this way so we could actually talk to North
Koreans, and one of the first ones we met was admitting that
the standard of living was a problem in the home country--
which would never be admitted to in North Korea proper.
In fact, when the political boss stepped in, he also
admitted to living a hard life.
But of course, he blamed it on America.
MALE SPEAKER 3: [SPEAKING KOREAN]

TRANSLATOR: [SPEAKING KOREAN]
SHANE SMITH: [TALK-SINGING IN KOREAN]
OK.
So they won't let us in.
They don't want to get in trouble, which is
understandable.
So they're kicking us out.
We're going to try to go to the forest to actually find
some North Korean workers who are actually
cutting down the trees.

You want a beer?
Hello.
[SPEAKING KOREAN].