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Inside North Korea (2006)Inside North Korea (2006)

With the appointment of Kim Jong-un to succeed his father Dear Leader Kim Jong-il to lead North Korea, and the continuing ambitions of the "hermit kingdom" to obtain nuclear weapons, this one-hour National Geographic documentary provides a good general introduction to the most isolated country in the world. Lisa Ling of National Geographic went undercover as a medical correspondent by joining a cataract surgery team to Pyongyang. In addition to her personal experiences, the film also incorporates general background history, archival film footage, and interviews with Korea experts and defectors. But it's the images that are stunning — the major highway from the airport devoid of cars that no one can afford, beer bottles at the hospital used for IVs, satellite images of labor camps, and, at the very end of the film, patients whose sight was restored by the cataract surgeon falling on their knees and raising their hands to one of the ubiquitous icons of the Great Leader: "All praise to you, Blessed Leader! I will work harder in the salt mines!" For an excellent book on the same subject see Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy; Ordinary Lives in North Korea (New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2010).

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