Following on from my review of Yeonmi Park’s In Order To Live, I wanted to find out some more about North Korea so here are some YouTube videos and channels for those also wanting to find out a bit more.
These videos and channels aren’t in a particular ranking order.
1) Yeonmi Park: My Escape From North Korea
The first video I am going to put here is the one I actually included in the book review post. This video is the first time I had actually heard of Yeonmi Park which made me want to read her book.
It is a very emotional interview and at times very upsetting to listen to, with some ideas that are very strange to democratic countries such as Yeonmi not knowing a word or the concept of freedom until after her escape.
2) Voice of North Korea by Yeonmi Park
Since 2014, Park has also had a YouTube channel called Voice of North Korea by Yeonmi Park, which contains a huge wealth of information for those wanting to find out more. The video above is the one featured on the channel but to subscribe to her channel the link to it is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpQu57KgT7gOoLCAu3FFQsA.
Note: subscribing to the channel is actually a very important thing as it makes the channel seem more popular to YouTube’s algorithm, helping more people to find out about North Korea.
In terms of the content on the channel there is a huge amount. There is news about what is happening in North Korea (though of course information in and out of the country is severely limited and heavily monitored). Recent videos have discussed Kim Jong-Un’s health which is said to be deteriorating rapidly, their response to the COVID-19 pandemic e.g. not wanting to roll out vaccines as fear of the virus is helping to make people even more compliant as well as the supposed disappearance of Kim Jong UN’s wife as his mistress seems to take centre stage).
Park also helps to get behind the stories to people’s everyday lives, with videos on North Korean beauty standards (and how when Yeonmi first came to America she thought the Victoria’s Secret models were ugly due to how thin they are), average meals for North Koreans, as well as information on the common escape routes out of North Korea. There is also some footage of concerts taking place in North Korea which are both fascinating and disturbing, even dystopian with how rapturous the applause can be at the arrival of Kim Jong-Un.
Below are a couple of links to some videos form the channel for those wondering where to begin:
Park herself took the route through the Gobi Desert to Mongolia but there are several other routes people can and have taken out of the country.
A North Korean Girl Group performing which shows the extent of propaganda in North Korea.
This video is very fascinating as Park explains some of the things she does actually miss about North Korea, showing some very interesting insight sand even some negative aspects of our own society e.g. our individualism whereas North Koreans do have a sense of community as the one thing they cannot be is an individual.
Also without modern technology in Korea, human interaction is very traditional and involves talking in person rather than through social media, text messaging and email.
3) The Great Game (Full Episode) North Korea - Video
This National Geographic video is a very interesting episode which provides the background of the history of the Korean peninsula and it’s partition into North and South, albeit from an American perspective.
Korea prior to World War Two was a Japanese territory though after they lost the Second World War, they along with Germany had to give up their territory.
Both the USA and USSR had interests in the area and wanted to pull the country into two different directions, with the USA wanting to make it a capitalist, democratic country and the USSR wanting to make it a socialist state.
They divided the country into two and installed separate leaders, however both leaders wanted to reunify the country under one regime, resulting in the Korean War in 1950.
This ultimately resulted in the de-militarized zone being created. Though the actual fighting stopped in 1953, no peace treaty was ever signed meaning technically the war is still taking place 71 years later.
The video talks about US interactions with the North Korean leaders, Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un, as well as North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile testing program.
4) This Is What It's Like Inside North Korea's Luxury Ski Resort - Video
This video is another National Geographic video focusing on the Masikryong Ski Resort. The resort was built as part of Kim Jong Un’s aim to increase tourist numbers in just ten months in 2013.
The video is hosted by British Snowboarder Jamie Barrow as he visits the capital city Pyongyang and then the ski resort.
I think what struck me about this video is the image we have of North Korea to what it is actually like. Pyongyang in the video actually looks like a very clean city with skyscrapers and various monuments and architecture. It is also surprising to see things like bowling alleys, casino’s and arcades both in the hotel in Pyongyang and in the ski resort itself.
However the video does have a very strange, even slightly disturbing quality. Jamie informs us during filming they were often told what they could and could not film and told to stop if they tried to disobey, showing that this is the part of Korea Kim Jong-Un wants people to see but not necessarily what it is actually like. Also the ski instructors state how blessed they are to be instructors because of Kim Jong Un which shows how much propaganda has brainwashed people in the country.
4) North Korea / The Lies and Truth of Kim Jong Un / How People Live (2019) - Video
This video is part of the “How People Live” Travel vlog series by Anton Lyadov. In it he documents his journey throughout North Korea but also used a hidden camera to film parts of what we are not meant to see.
For instance he filmed footage from the train going into Pyongyang of people working in the fields and washing in the river and takes a photo of Pyongyang which includes the slum areas.
There are also some intriguing facts which he raises. He is followed everywhere during the journey by guides who report to the government what he has seen and done that day. He is also not allowed to purchase a notebook in a supermarket as a tourist and they have their own copycat versions of American brands as anything American is banned.
He also shows some of the technology in use in North Korea which is surprising based on what we think we know of North Korea. For instance they surprisingly do have laptops and smartphones but the laptops use their own Linux based operating system which regularly takes a screenshot of what is on the screen. They also do not allow him to view files on an external drive such as a memory stick and he has to fill in a form to send an email. He also shows how he suspects the hotel rooms are bugged and he isn’t even allowed to move freely in his own hotel, only the floor he is on and the ground floor is accessible.
Other strange things shown include the daily newspaper where it is claimed only the Kim family can predict the weather and bizarrely he is not allowed to fold the paper with a photograph of the Kim family on the cover in half.
He also visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun which is a requirement as part of his trip (all tourist visits are tightly controlled and the government control what is on the itinerary for every day a tourist is there).
He talks about the various requirements he has to fulfill, for instance purchasing flowers to lay on the statues of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il and even when laying them, he has to bow for five seconds before approaching and when visiting the palace itself he has to bow three times to the body, at the feet and at both sides. Also he has to have his hands in front of him at all times and if he is taking a picture, he cannot hold anyone’s hand or look “too happy” in the pictures.
It is a very fascinating episode with a lot of information to take in.
5) We Interviewed A Former Elite North Korean Spy | Stay Curious #36
This final video only appeared on YouTube very recently. There are various videos on YouTube of North Korean defectors fleeing the country but this one is unique.
Chul-eun Lee was a former high ranking Government official in North Korea, working for the Ministry of State Security, the North Korean equivalent of the National Intelligence Service in South Korea. He swam 6km from North Korea to South Korea to flee the country.
The video is interesting in how it explains how parts of the agency work and also what the prison camps look like which are only mentioned in previous videos as they are tightly controlled so not even tourists know what they look like or where they are.
Hopefully these are some videos to get started on finding out more about North Korea. If you have any other videos that you have found or would like to share, let me know in the comments below.