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  • [SPEAKING KOREAN]

  • [KOREAN PATRIOTIC SONG]

  • SHANE SMITH: Right after we launched VBS, people started

  • saying, North Korea.

  • Why don't you go to North Korea?

  • Why?

  • Because nobody knows anything about North Korea.

  • So we were fascinated by it.

  • And we tried to get in for a year and a half, but couldn't

  • because North Korea doesn't let anyone in.

  • They do not want anyone to corrupt their 100% homogeneous

  • society that is 100% percent ruled by one

  • person, Kim Jong Il.

  • In the end, we just got so frustrated that we ended up

  • flying to South Korea and saying, well at least we can

  • go to the DMZ and put our foot into North Korea and at least

  • see a little bit of it from the South.

  • Let's go see the DMZ, which is the demilitarized zone, which

  • is the border between North Korea and South Korea.

  • Since the Korean War ended, it's been the most militarized

  • zone on Earth with two million estimated troops on the North

  • Korean side, about 500,000 on the South Korean side.

  • Missiles pointed at each other, artillery tanks.

  • There's three million mines on the border itself.

  • In fact, there's so many mines that the North Koreans built

  • invasion tunnels, where they went 70 meters down.

  • And they're like, we could be in Seoul in

  • an hour and a half.

  • Now the CIA and the American army have

  • found a number of these.

  • But they think that there's even more.

  • It's been called the end of the world.

  • And it's the closest you can get to seeing North Korea.

  • Getting to the DMZ isn't easy.

  • It's only an hour and a half north of Seoul, but you have

  • to go through about 15 checkpoints.

  • Then you have to go through United Nations indoctrination

  • session, where they're like, don't point.

  • Don't look at them.

  • Don't take any pictures.

  • Don't do anything.

  • We're only going to be there for 2 and 1/2 minutes.

  • We're at the last stop in South Korea before

  • going to the DMZ.

  • This here is Freedom Bridge.

  • Right after the Korean War, it was the last time the North

  • and South exchanged POWs.

  • And on the other side of that now, a little further back is

  • North Korea.

  • Right here, it's kind of like a theme park.

  • But as you see, just beyond the theme park, hidden by the

  • trees, there's barbed wire and land mines and checkpoints

  • everywhere.

  • So it's a very bizarre theme park.

  • A lot of families come, and they put up messages or

  • prayers for their family in the North that they've been

  • split and never allowed to see.

  • So they'll come here and make a pilgrimage and say, OK, this

  • is what I'm going to put up.

  • Someone's put up some golf balls.

  • I think the South's going to lose pretty damn quick.

  • They're going to be rave soldiers brought up on

  • Playstation versus the North Koreans who eat grass and

  • sleep with their AK.

  • And so you get off the bus.

  • And you look across, and there's North Korea.

  • They're like, that's North Korea.

  • Get back on the bus.

  • You could start World War III.

  • They really get you terrified.

  • They let you into one barracks room.

  • And the barracks room is half in North Korea,

  • half in South Korea.

  • And they set that up so they could have talks.

  • But it's the only place where you can go and actually set

  • foot technically into North Korea.

  • And this is as close as 99.9% of the people in the world

  • will ever get into getting into North Korea.

  • And people are like, that's North Korea.

  • So that piece of concrete--

  • The gravel is South, and the concrete is demarcation line.

  • And the sand is North.

  • SHANE SMITH: No what?

  • SHANE SMITH: No pointing.

  • Right, right, right.

  • No finger pointing.

  • FEMALE SPEAKER: You could take a picture

  • with the two soldiers.

  • SHANE SMITH: We're like, dude we have to

  • get into North Korea.

  • We have to get in.

  • GEORGE W. BUSH: North Korea has a regime arming with

  • missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

  • States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an

  • axis of evil, arming to threaten the

  • peace of the world.

  • The United States of America will not permit the world's

  • most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's

  • most destructive weapons.

  • [CHANTING IN KOREAN IN UNISON]

  • SHANE SMITH: We couldn't get in.

  • We tried through the embassy, through press, through Swedish

  • embassy, British embassy, Canadian

  • embassy, German embassy.

  • And I was saying to myself, what in God's

  • name is going on here.

  • So we were interviewing North Korean

  • refugees in South Korea.

  • And a few of them had said, just go to Shenyang and bribe

  • the consulate there.

  • There.

  • That's what everybody else does.

  • So we were in South Korea.

  • And we said, why not?

  • We're here.

  • So we flew up to China.

  • We had nothing to lose.

  • And we met the consul in Shenyang, paid a visa fee.

  • And we left our passports there and, in

  • fact, most of our money.

  • And we went back to this North Korean hotel.

  • We had to stay in one of their hotels in northern China.

  • And we were supposed to hear back from them at 4:00 the

  • next afternoon.

  • At 6:00 in the morning, there's a banging on our door.

  • And we wake up all discombobulated.

  • And they're like, we have to go now.

  • Here's your passport.

  • Let's go.

  • And we're like, where are we going?

  • Where are we going?

  • And they don't give you any time to react, not one second.

  • They take you right out from the room at 6:00 in the

  • morning and get you on the plane.

  • Shenyang, you got to come to Shenyang to stay here in the

  • North Korean hotel with concrete beds.

  • [KOREAN MUSIC]

  • SHANE SMITH: You're not allowed to bring anything into

  • North Korea.

  • You can't bring a cellphone.

  • You can't bring a computer.

  • You can't bring any printed material, any music.

  • They don't want you to have anything that you can even

  • leave there.

  • In fact, they don't want you to bring any type of camera in

  • that is too sophisticated, no telephoto lenses, nothing.

  • You can bring basically a point and

  • shoot, and that's it.

  • In fact, when you go in, you have to sign a thing saying,

  • I'm not bringing in anything.

  • And let me tell you, if they find that you did,

  • you're in deep shit.

  • And then you're flying from Shenyang to

  • Pyongyang in North Korea.

  • And then you go, holy shit, we're going to North Korea.

  • And with the express purpose of shooting, which you're not

  • allowed to do, with the express purpose of making a

  • documentary, which you're not allowed to do.

  • This is terrifying.

  • So from the first minute I got there, I was shit scared.

  • [CHANTING IN KOREAN IN UNISON]

  • SHANE SMITH: The first sight of Pyongyang.

  • It's pretty dismal.

  • [KOREAN MUSIC]

  • SHANE SMITH: We're in a hotel that's about 47 stories tall.

  • Nobody's in it.

  • There's only one floor with any people on it.

  • We're in the hotel room.

  • And we've been told that they're bugged, that they're

  • listening to us.

  • I don't know if whispering is going to help.

  • That might be where it all stems from.

  • Hello, hello.

  • Oh.

  • Come in.

  • Come in, Tokyo.

  • Hello.

  • Hello.

  • Hello.

  • We're here.

  • Right after we get there, we were taken for our first meal.

  • And the first time you eat in North Korea, it's a sign of

  • the very weird things to come.

  • [SPEAKING KOREAN]

  • SHANE SMITH: This is where we go, here?

  • Table.

  • FEMALE SPEAKER 2: Sit please.

  • FEMALE SPEAKER 2: Kumgangsan

  • SHANE SMITH: We're in the big banquet room.

  • As you can see, it's huge.

  • There's about 20 women who are getting ready for our dinner.

  • First of all, they give you about three or four courses of

  • absolutely inedible food.

  • It's just matter.

  • It's like fried matter.

  • And you're going, yeah, yeah.

  • But you're waiting for everyone to fill in.

  • When's this banquet happening?

  • When's the banquet?

  • There is no banquet.

  • Where is everyone?

  • It's not very busy here.

  • They realize they've gotten so much bad press for not having

  • food that they want to show, oh there's plenty of food.

  • Food everywhere.

  • And they're carefully laying out the food the whole time

  • you're eating.

  • And then as you leave, you notice they're pulling all the

  • things they've just carefully laid into little tiny trays

  • that are carefully going to bring back to keep

  • for the next day.

  • And you're just sitting there by yourself eating your matter

  • going, OK I've come to crazy land.

  • SHANE SMITH: It's really gray and heavy duty outside.

  • I'm going to go downstairs to meet our guards in 15 minutes.

  • It's maybe the weirdest I've ever felt in my life.

  • The first thing you realize in North Korea is

  • you're not a tourist.

  • You're on a tour.

  • You come in.

  • You're shown what you're shown.

  • You're escorted out.

  • You're escorted the whole time.

  • You're never allowed on your own.

  • You can't leave the hotel, which is on an island, until

  • your guards come and get you.

  • You have a guard, a guide, and secret police.

  • The first place they take you is to the Pueblo, which is an

  • American spy ship that they captured in the '60s during

  • the Cold War.

  • And they docked it in downtown Pyongyang.

  • And the indoctrination starts.

  • SHANE SMITH: They force you to sit there and watch this

  • indoctrination video about how the American imperialists are

  • terrible, and they're shitting on the peace-loving people of

  • North Korea.

  • And look how terrible America is.

  • Look how terrible Japan is.

  • And how we got their ship, and it shows that they were spying

  • on us and how evil they are.

  • Really incredibly anti-American.

  • SHANE SMITH: This is very freaky.

  • On the way here, there's a big poster that says the way to

  • peace is a point of a bayonet.

  • And all the North Koreans are brought here.

  • So you're sitting there as the only Caucasian going, oh good,

  • as everyone's staring at you with daggers.

  • And you're just sitting there going, OK.

  • Great, I get it.

  • There's going to be a lot more of this.

  • SHANE SMITH: So every day around 6:30 in the morning,

  • our guides and our guards would come to pick us up.

  • They'd put us in a truck, drive us out to some monument,

  • and you'd drive for two hours.

  • And the first thing you notice are, there's no cars.

  • The villages have no electricity.

  • There's no nothing.

  • Nothing's happening anywhere.