New York "Tourists" Slip Into North Korea- Film Crazyland
A couple of New York “tourists” crash the regime.
VBS.TV is running a series of internet videos taken secretly inside North Korea.
There are 14 episodes in the series that give you a rare glimpse inside crazyland.
VICE decided a few months ago that as far as stories go, this was one we wanted to do. So what else to do but lie and call yourself a tourist and then start filming.
BRIEF NOTE FROM SHANE SMITH ON THE BYZANTINE NORTH KOREAN VISA PROCESS
Getting into North Korea was one of the hardest and weirdest processes VBS has ever dealt with. After we went back and forth with their representatives for months, they finally said they were going to allow 16 journalists into the country to cover the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang. 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.” We had no idea what that was supposed to mean. 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.
But we went for it. The first leg of the trip was a flight into northern China. At the airport the North Korean consulate took our passports and all of our money, then brought us to a restaurant. We were sitting there with our tour group, and suddenly all the other diners left and these women came out and started singing North Korean nationalist songs. We were thinking, “Look, we were just on a plane for 20 hours. We’re jet-lagged. Can we just go to bed?” but this guy with our group who was from the LA Times told us, “Everyone in here besides us is secret police. If you don’t act excited then you’re not going to get your visa.” So we got drunk and jumped up onstage and sang songs with the girls. The next day we got our visas. A lot of people we had gone with didn’t get theirs. That was our first hint at just what a freaky, freaky trip we were embarking on…
In this photo Shane Smith decides to go eat at the hotel’s restaurant where he was the only customer to show up that evening. During his meal, the 20 North Korean women waiting on him set up food on all of the surrounding tables to make it look like there is “plenty of food” in this collapsing regime. Outside the restaurant starving rural workers are too weak to show up at their jobs.
Shane Smith at VBS TV adds:
We are pulling the curtain back and shedding light on the darkest of countries, not just giving viewers spoon fed images like the government staged image in the New York Times. Those do nothing to capture what the hell is really going on there like our series does.
It’s 14 parts cause its a big story to tell, here are clips that are some of the more bizarre.
North Korean Karaoke:
In Episode 14 of this internet production, Shane Smith goes out for an evening of fun in North Korea and finds a karaoke bar. The North Koreans had never heard anything like this before.
What follows is hilarious.
(4 minutes 54 seconds- some rough language)