North Korea Documented

by basverbeek | created - 30 Jan 2012 | updated - 8 months ago | Public

Documentaries on North Korea.

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1. The Red Chapel (2009)

Not Rated | 88 min | Documentary, Comedy

58 Metascore

Two Danish comedians join the director on a trip to North Korea, where they have been allowed access under the pretext of wanting to perform a vaudeville act.

Director: Mads Brügger | Stars: Mads Brügger, Simon Jul Jørgensen, Jacob Nossell

Votes: 1,693 | Gross: $0.01M

Great and very unique documentary by Danish absurdist Mads Brügger (be sure to check out his other works). He and his avant-garde theater group offers the North Koreans to perform in Pyongyang and surprisingly they allow the Danish bunch, including a handicapped boy. Brügger's exploration and testing of the regime delivers not only interesting insights in the acting of the regime but also very entertaining television.

2. Friends of Kim (2006)

71 min | Documentary

This Dutch documentary shows a group of Westerners on an organized 12-day tour of North Korea organized by the Korean Friendship Association. It shows various staged events in honor of the ... See full summary »

Director: Raphael Wilking | Stars: David Borenstein, Alejandro Cao de Benos de Les y Pérez, Kristian Carter, Mun Jong Choi

Votes: 31

Dutch documentary maker Hans van Dijk has the chance to join North Korea's Friendship Association, a club run by the Spanish Alejandro Cao de Benos who is an official promoter for North Korea. The international group of international North Korea-friends step into their adventure convinced of the prosperity of North Korean socialism, however during the trip they get confronted by a ran down regime which forcibly keeps up appearances and even utilizes the foreign travelers to promote the regime. Their belief fades even more when de Benos appears to be another North Korean-style leader of the group.

3. The Flower of Kim Jong II (2009)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary, Drama

44 Metascore

North Korean defectors tell their stories of repression, escape and hope.

Director: N.C. Heikin | Stars: Young Hun Choi, Chol-Hwan Kang, Lee Shin

Votes: 782 | Gross: $0.00M

Stories of North Korean defectors and their stories on the brutalities of the regime. Among them a North Korean defector who managed to escape one of the country's highly secured prison camps. Very well made documentary which lot's of explanation on the process of escaping and the propaganda machine of the country.

4. North Korea: A Day in the Life (2004)

PG-13 | 48 min | Documentary

Documentary about North Korea

Director: Pieter Fleury

Votes: 441

Documentary makers follow the lives of a family living in Pyongyang. With no narration added, you can make up your own mind on the meaning of the images you see from the North Korean elite city.

5. Crossing the Line (2006)

Not Rated | 94 min | Documentary

71 Metascore

A British documentary about US Army defector James Dresnok currently living in North Korea after having defected during the 60s.

Director: Daniel Gordon | Stars: Damion Cruzz, Bruce Cumings, James Joseph Dresnok, Kim Il-Sung

Votes: 783 | Gross: $0.01M

Documented by the BBC, this is the amazing story of James Dresnock, an American soldier who defected to North Korea during when he was a soldier in the south. Together with a few other Americans he walked over to the North, Dresnock is the only one who still lives his life peacefully in North Korea, together with his family.

6. National Geographic: Inside North Korea (2006)

PG | 51 min | Documentary

Go undercover with National Geographic correspondent Lisa Ling as she journeys into mysterious and reclusive North Korea.

Votes: 480

North Korea welcomes Sanduk Ruit, a doctor from Laos. With his team he can cure many North Koreans who are suffering from blindness. The 'miracle doctor' as he is called is managing to do about 1000 eye surgeries in 10 days, though the North Koreans thank the Great Leader for the miracle, not the doctor...

7. DPRK: The Land of Whispers (2013)

PG | 59 min | Documentary

North Korea lies somewhere between a 1930s Soviet Union frozen in time and a dark, futuristic vision of society... as imagined back in the 70s. 'Land of Whispers' invites you to visit ... See full summary »

Director: Matt Dworzanczyk | Star: Matt Dworzanczyk

Votes: 534

Film student traveled to North Korea, had a lot of thoughts on what he saw and had a lot of footage as well. Result is an original cut report free of strong biases or sensationalism. Watch the whole docu on YouTube here:

8. The Game of Their Lives (2002)

80 min | Documentary, Sport

A BBC documentary producer is given unprecedented access in North Korea to chronicle the story of the famed 1966 World Cup team from the North that advanced to the quarterfinals. The ... See full summary »

Director: Daniel Gordon | Stars: Daniel Gordon, Paul Nicholson, Eusébio, Kim Il-Sung

Votes: 254

Great docu on the 1966 national soccer team of North Korea which travelled to the UK to compete in the World Cup for the first time. Nobody thought the team would win any game, but by beating Italy they made it into the quarter finals. Watch it here:

9. Seoul Train (2004)

54 min | Documentary

The gripping documentary exposé into the life and death of North Koreans as they try to escape their homeland and China

Directors: Jim Butterworth, Aaron Lubarsky, Lisa Sleeth

Votes: 286

Insights in how defectors have to manage in China and the international (mostly American) political efforts to support those who want to leave the dictatorship.

10. Children of the Secret State (2001)

50 min | Documentary

A documentary about a North Korean that repeatedly goes back into the country with a hidden camera to film the orphans dying of starvation in the streets.

Director: Carla Garapedian | Star: Joe Layburn

Votes: 139

Lots of secret shot footage from North Korea, mostly of homeless children looking for food. The film also follows the efforts of a few orphans who undertake the plan to make the dangerous cross of the river to China.

11. Welcome to North Korea (2001 TV Movie)

50 min | Documentary

This film, shot mostly covertly, shows a regime where 20 million people live in poverty, some on the brink of starvation, while the former dictator Kim II Sung and his son built extravagant monuments to reflect their power.

Directors: Raymond Feddema, Peter Tetteroo | Star: John Swieringa

Votes: 151

Won an Emmy for best documentary. You can watch the full documentary here:

12. A State of Mind (2004)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary

63 Metascore

A British documentary that follows two young North Korean girls as they prepare for the Mass Games, the world's largest choreographed gymnastics performance.

Director: Daniel Gordon | Stars: Daniel Gordon, Hyon Sun Pak, Song Yun Kim, Jong-Il Kim

Votes: 987 | Gross: $0.04M

Documentary that follows two young North Korean girls as they prepare for the Mass Games, the world's largest choreographed gymnastics performance. Good insight in the iron discipline of the hard training North Korean athletes.

13. Panorama (1953– )
Episode: North Korea Undercover (2013)

30 min | Documentary, News

A Panorama crew spends 8 days in North Korea, viewing Potemkin Villages and examining indoctrination.

Director: Howard Bradburn | Star: John Sweeney

Votes: 42

Really bad piece of journalism from John Sweeney's Panorama. Lacks on any background knowledge of North Korea, sensationalizes things and also brought both North Korean people and visitors unnecessarily in danger by producing this sneakily.

14. Camp 14: Total Control Zone (2012)

106 min | Documentary, Biography

70 Metascore

Shin Dong-Huyk was born on November 19, 1983 as a political prisoner in a North Korean re-education camp. He was a child of two prisoners who had been married by order of the wardens. He ... See full summary »

Director: Marc Wiese | Stars: Shin Dong-Hyuk, Oh Yangnam, Hyuk Kwon, August Diehl

Votes: 980

15. The Defector: Escape from North Korea (2012)

71 min | Documentary

Dragon smuggles North Korean defectors across borders for a living, and his latest undercover trip with Sook-Ja and Yong-hee takes an unexpected turn when they are left stranded in China. ... See full summary »

Director: Ann Shin | Stars: Dragon, Sook-ja, Yong-hee

Votes: 74

16. Under the Sun (2015)

Not Rated | 106 min | Documentary

81 Metascore

A propaganda documentary about North Korea that reveals a few hidden facts because the director continues filming between the scripted scenes.

Director: Vitaliy Manskiy | Stars: Lee Zin-Mi, Yu-Yong, Hye-Yong, Oh-Gyong

Votes: 4,005 | Gross: $0.07M

17. The Lovers & the Despot (2016)

Unrated | 98 min | Documentary, Thriller

65 Metascore

The story of the South Korean actor, Choi Eun-hee, and her ex-husband and film director, Shin Sang-ok, who were individually kidnapped and reunited by dictator and film fan Kim Jong-il to force them to develop North Korea's film industry.

Directors: Ross Adam, Robert Cannan | Stars: Eun-hie Choi, Paul Courtenay Hyu, Sang-ok Shin

Votes: 827 | Gross: $0.06M

18. The Propaganda Game (2015)

98 min | Documentary

Granted controlled access by national officials, filmmaker Álvaro Longoria tours North Korea to contrast his findings to the typical Western depiction of the nation.

Director: Álvaro Longoria | Stars: Álvaro Longoria, Simon Cockerell, Kang Hyoin Gyu, Barbara Demick

Votes: 4,182

19. North Korea: Michael Palin's Journey (2018– )

45 min | Documentary

As diplomatic relations between DPRK and South Korea begin to slightly thaw after decades of hostility, comedian and world traveler Michael Palin is allowed to visit North Korea for two weeks and, to a limited extent, explore the country.

Star: Michael Palin

Votes: 329

20. The Jangmadang Generation (2017)

53 min | Documentary

North Korea's Millennial Generation is shaking things up in the hermit kingdom. They grew up relying on themselves, not the regime, and they have a different mindset from the previous ... See full summary »

Directors: Sokeel Park, Chad Vickery | Stars: Joo Yang, Kang Min, Danbi Kim, Nara Kang

Votes: 5

21. The Girl from the South (2012)

94 min | Documentary

Lim Su-kyung (also spelled as Lim Soo-kyung) attended the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, held in North Korea in 1989, without first obtaining permission from the South Korean ... See full summary »

Director: José Luis García | Stars: Im Su-kyong, Alejandro Kim

Votes: 171

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