DEUTSCHE WELLE: DOCUMENTARIES AND REPORTS:
“Βetween Personality Cult and Bumper Car - In Kim Jong Un's North Korea”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has isolated his country almost completely from the rest of the world. A film crew was fortunate to be allowed to film for ten days in a land where there is virtually no freedom of speech.
North Koreans have no contact with the outside world or access to the Internet.
"Only when the beloved General is satisfied with my work will I attend to marriage and my own personal happiness," says Ri Hui Ran. The North Korean works in a state-run factory, standing between huge bright blue and pink rolls of fabric used to make underpants. All the interviewees in this documentary were selected by the North Korean Ministry of Culture to talk to the invited journalists. The filmmaker Carmen Butta was one of them: she was able to shoot for ten days in the state, which only rarely allows a glimpse behind its borders and keeps its population firmly suppressed.
North Korean comrades only wear their hair up to five centimeters long, with a maximum of seven for older people, if they want to avoid being labeled counterrevolutionaries or decadent followers of Western styles.
The North Korean regime tried to present the journalists with a different yet very revealing image of itself: a dolphin show to entertain the capital city’s residents, picnics in the park, tourists visiting beautiful Mount Kumsang, a hair salon in Pyongyang, and children who perform and sing with irritating perfection. And yet the real nature of the dictatorship shines through in each of the numerous interviews. The selected interviewees claimed they lack neither freedom of religion nor of expression. They all said North Korea was the happiest country in the world.
Only members of the nomenclature and businessmen with hard currency from trade or smuggling with China are able to gamble.
The film presents us with the sort of images that have never before been seen from North Korea. It shows how Kim Jong Un has tried to court his country’s middle classes, which itself questions his regime’s future. How long will it take before information from abroad and the stories of refugees give North Koreans the idea that maybe something is missing in the “best country in the world.”