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The Other Korea

Airport, shops and security: a sneak peek at North Korea’s friendly face

For its 70th anniversary celebrations, the country invited an unprecedented number of foreign journalists and allowed them to keep their smartphones. Setting aside horror stories of famine and labour camps relayed by agencies with their own agendas, RT vlogger Anna Knichenko vows only to report on what she sees, and to film what she can.

In the process, she encounters ordinary life, with a twist. This starts at the airport terminal, complete with duty-free and a bookshop promoting the Party’s Juche philosophy for the international reader. Anna tries to make sense of incomes, exchange rates and prices while filming a well-stocked supermarket with a hidden camera. The vlogger talks us through North Korea’s unplugged Internet and introduces her minders: a guide with flawless Russian and a cat the visitors nicknamed, Major.

She meets those who believe North Korea is changing. A student who supports the new Party line by marching in torch-lit processions and a Danish colleague who flags up the significance of a nuclear-free military parade, as the country that opted out of globalization extends a hand of friendship to the world.