Sneaking Into North Korea

Uploaded by vice on Apr 16, 2012

SHANE SMITH: Hey, it's Shane from Vice.
And this show features all of our best shit
from over the years.
It's some freaky, freaky business, and we
hope you like it.
Welcome to Vice Presents.

I actually went to North Korea twice.
The first time we snuck in, they wouldn't
let me shoot anything.
And then while we were there, we got drunk doing karaoke
with some generals.
And they let us come in the second time when we shot.
But when they heard what we had shot, and when they saw
the documentary, they got mad at us.
In fact, my PA called me one day and said, don't come into
the office.
There's two North Koreans here from the embassy.
Problem is, they don't have an embassy in America.
So I didn't go into the office, and I'm sure as hell
not going back to North Korea.

Nobody knows anything about North Korea, so we were
fascinated by it.
And we tried to get in for a year and a half but couldn't,
because North Korea doesn't let anyone in.
They do not want anyone to corrupt their 100% homogeneous
society that is 100% ruled by one person, Kim Jong-il.

In the end, we just got so frustrated that we ended up
flying to South Korea and saying, well, at least we can
go to the DMZ and put our foot into North Korea and at least
see a little bit of it from the South.
Let's go see the DMZ, which is the Demilitarized Zone, which
is the border between North Korea and South Korea.

Since the Korean War ended, it's been the most militarized
zone on earth, with two million estimated troops on
the North Korean side, about 500,000 on the
South Korean side.
Missiles pointed at each other, artillery, tanks.
There's three million mines on the border itself.
In fact, there are so many mines that the North Koreans
built invasion tunnels where they went 70 meters down.
And they're like, we can be in Seoul in an hour and a half.
Now the CIA and the American Army have found a number of
these, but they think that there's even more.
It's been called the end of the world, and it's the
closest you can get to seeing North Korea.

Getting to the DMZ isn't easy.
It's only an hour and a half North of Seoul, but you have
to go through about 15 checkpoints.
Then you have to go through a United Nations sort of
indoctrination session, where they're like, don't point,
don't look at them, don't take any
pictures, don't do anything.
We're only going to be there for two and a half minutes.

So we're at the last stop in South Korea before
going to the DMZ.
This here is Freedom Bridge, but after the Korean War was
the last time the North and South exchanged POWs.
And on the other side of that now, a little further back, is
North Korea.

Right here, it's kind of like a theme park.
But as you see just beyond the theme park, kind of hidden by
the trees, there's barbed wire and land mines and checkpoints
So it's kind of a very bizarre theme park.
So a lot of families come, and they put up messages or
prayers for their family in the North that they've been
split and never allowed to see.
So they all come here and make a pilgrimage and say, OK, this
is what I'm going to put up.
Someone's put up some golf balls there.
I think the South's going to lose pretty damn quick.
They're going to be sort of rave soldiers, brought up on
Versus the North Koreans who eat grass and
sleep with their AK.

And so you get off the bus, and you look across, and
there's North Korea.
They're like, that's North Korea, get back on the bus.
You could start World War III.
They really get you terrified.

They let you into one barracks room, and the barracks room is
half in North Korea, half in South Korea.
And they set that up so that they could have talks.
But it's the only place where you can go and actually set
foot, technically, into North Korea.
And this is as close as 99.9% of the people in the world
will ever get to getting into North Korea.
And people are like, that's North Korea.
MALE SPEAKER: So that piece of concrete--
SHANE SMITH: That concrete-- so the gravel is South, the
concrete is the demarcation line, and the sand is--

SHANE SMITH: No finger pointing.

We're like, dude, we have to get into North Korea.
We have to get in.

GEORGE BUSH: North Korea has a regime arming with missiles
and weapons of mass destruction.
States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an
axis of evil arming to threaten the
peace of the world.
The United States of America will not permit the world's
most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's
most destructive weapons.

SHANE SMITH: We couldn't get in.
We tried through the Embassy, through press, through Swedish
embassy, British embassy, Canadian
embassy, German embassy.
And I was saying to myself, what in God's
name is going on here?
So we were interviewing North Korean refugees in South
Korea, and a few of them had said, just go to Shenyang and
bribe the consulate there.
That's what everybody else does.
So we were in South Korea, and we said why not, we're here?
So we flew up to China, and we had nothing to lose.

And we met the consul in Shenyang, paid
a fee, a visa fee.
And we left our passports there, and in fact most of our
money, and we went back to this North Korean hotel.
We had to stay in one of their hotels in Northern China, and
we were supposed to hear back from them at
4:00 the next afternoon.
At 6:00 in the morning, there's a banging on our door,
and we wake up all discombobulated.
And they're like, we have to go now, here's your
passport, let's go.
And we're like where are we going?
Where are we going?
And they don't give you any time to react, not one second.
They take you right out from the room at 6:00 in the
morning, get you on the plane.
Shenyang, you know, you've got to come to Shenyang.
Stay here at the North Korean hotel with concrete beds.

You're not allowed to bring anything into North Korea.
You can't bring a cellphone, you can't bring a computer,
you can't bring any printed material, any music.
They don't want you to have anything that
you even leave there.
In fact, they don't want you to bring any type of camera in
that was too sophisticated.
No telephoto lenses, nothing.
You can bring basically a point and
shoot, and that's it.

In fact, when you go in you have to sign a thing saying
I'm not bringing in anything.
And let me tell you, if they find out that you did, you're
in deep shit.

And then you're flying from Shenyang to Pyongyang in North
Korea, and you go holy shit, we're going to North Korea.
And with the express purpose of shooting, which you're not
allowed to do.
With the express purpose of making a documentary, which
you're not allowed to do.
This is terrifying.
So from the first minute I got there, I was shit scared.

SHANE SMITH: First sight of Pyongyang, pretty dismal.

We're in a hotel that's about 47 stories tall.
Nobody's in it.
I think there's only one floor with any people on it.

We're in the hotel, and we've been told that they're bugged,
that they're listening to us.
I don't know if whispering is going to help.
That might be where it all stems from.
Come in.
Come in, Tokyo.
We're here.

Right after we get there, we were taken for our first meal.
And the first time you eat in North Korea, it's kind of a
sign of the very weird things to come.

Oh, this is where we go, here?
Table is over here.

SHANE SMITH: We're in the big banquet room.
As you can see, it's huge.
There's about 20 women, we're getting ready for our dinner.
First of all, they give you about three or four courses of
absolutely inedible food.
It's just matter, it's like fried matter.
And you're kind of going, yeah, yeah.
But you're waiting for everyone to fill in, when's
this banquet happening?
When's the banquet?
There is no banquet.
Where is everyone?
It's not very busy here.
They realize they've gotten so much bad press for not having
food that they want to show oh, there's plenty of food,
food everywhere.
And they're carefully laying out the food the whole time
you're eating.
And then as you're leaving you notice they're pulling all the
things they've just carefully laid into little tiny trays
they're carefully going to bring back and keep
for the next day.
And you're just sitting there by yourself, eating your
matter, going OK, I've come to crazy land.

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