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Secret State of North Korea (2014)—North KoreaSecret State of North Korea (2014)—North Korea

This one-hour documentary by PBS Frontline takes you into the world's most secretive and isolated state.  They do it in two interesting ways.  First, a Japanese editor named Jiro Ishimara has a cohort of covert and very brave North Korean citizens who smuggle their secretly taken videos out of the country.  These people could be imprisoned or even executed for this betrayal.  What's remarkable here is how at least some people are openly disdainful of their dictator state.  They are not brain washed.  Then, there are others, like the 20,000-plus defectors who now live in South Korea, who smuggle various forms of contraband into North Korea — laptops, radios, thumb drives, DVDs, and cell phones, which stuff makes its way onto the black markets.  This sort of popular culture wields enormous power to the extent that it shows North Koreans what life is like outside of their Orwellian world. An unusual form of this latter tactic is to release helium balloons over the border, filled with such things as American dollars.  The film also interviews various experts on North Korea.  I watched this film for free from the PBS Frontline website.

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