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“The Faces of North Korea”

Text, photos and film: Andre Vltchek
Here it is – my short film about North Korea. No need to drag it, to prolong it – let’s just watch it all together:

This is my 25-minutes piece about the DPRK (North Korea) – country that I visited relatively recently; visited and loved, was impressed with, and let me be frank – admired.

I don’t really know if I could call this a ‘documentary’. Perhaps not. A simple story, a poem, you know: I met a girl, tiny and delicate, at the roller-skating ring in Pyongyang. How old was she? Who knows; perhaps four or five. She was first clinging to her mom, then to a Korean professor Kiyul, even to a former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Then she began skating away, waving innocently, looking back at me, at us, or just looking back…

Suddenly I was terribly scared for her. It was almost some physical fear. Perhaps it was irrational, like panic, I don’t know…

I did not want anything bad to happen to her. I did not want the US nukes start falling all around her. I did not want her to end up like those poor Vietnamese or Iraqi or Afghan children, victims of the Western barbarism; of the chemical weapons, depleted uranium, or cluster bombs. I did not want her to starve because of some insane sanctions pushed through the UN by spiteful maniacs who simply hate “the Others”.

And so, I produced a short film, about what I saw in North Korea. A film that I made for, dedicated to, that little girl at the roller-skating ring in Pyongyang.

When I was filming, collecting footage in DPRK, the war, an attack from the West or from Japan or South Korea, looked possible, almost likely.

When, some time later, I was editing, in Beirut, with a Lebanese editor, US President Donald Trump was threatening to “take care of the North Korea”. What he meant was clear. Trump is a ‘honest man’; honest in a mafia-style way. In the film I call him ‘a manager’. He may not be an Einstein, but he usually says what he means, at each given moment. You know, again, the Yakuza-style.

Now when I am releasing this humble work of mine, things look brighter after the Singapore Summit, although I really do not trust the West, after more than 500 years of barbaric colonialist wars and crusades. The ‘manager’ is perhaps honest when he says that now he likes President Kim, but then again, tomorrow he could be ‘honest’ again, declaring that he changed him mind and wants to break his arm.

Time to hurry, I feel. Time to hurry and to show to as many people as possible, how beautiful North Korea is, and how dignified its people are.


I can “sell” footage or “sell rights” and make some money for my other internationalist projects, but the whole thing would get delayed, and only limited number of people would see it in such case.

By releasing it like this, the film will make nothing, zero, but I guess it is my duty to do it this way. Hopefully, the film, or ‘a poem’, will be seen by many and the pressure on the West and on Japan will grow – pressure to stop intimidation of the people who already suffered so tremendously much!

If someone wants to support my films, including my works in progress (two big documentary films I am working on right now, one about Afghanistan after almost two decades of the NATO occupation, another about almost total environmental destruction in Kalimantan/Borneo), it can be done HERE. But no pressure. Just enjoy this particular film and other films that I will be soon and gradually releasing.


In the meantime, North Korea is standing.

While the West is calculating, what to do next. I don’t have a good feeling about all this. I hope I am wrong. I hope this is just a beginning of the serious peace process…

But I guess I have seen too many ruins of the cities, of countries and entire continents. Most of them were bombed, reduced to rubble after various ‘peace processes’. Mostly the bombs and missiles began flying after some sound agreements were reached and signed.

I don’t want the same thing to happen to North Korea. I don’t want this girl whom I spotted at the roller-skating ring, to vanish.

What I did this time is not much, but it is something. In this dangerous situation, almost everything counts. Let’s all do “something”, even if it is just a tiny bit. Rain is made of water drops, but it can stop a big fire. This time let us try to stop the madness by tiny drops of sanity and tenderness.

Originally published by New Eastern Outlook
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. Hecovered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.   Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel.  Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”.   Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV.  After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website   or his Twitter.


    • Jen says

      Agree, the film is very poetic and profound.

      Can recommend this film, “The Haircut”, made by two Australians who travelled to North Korea in 2017 to see if Western news media reports that North Korean men are only allowed a limited choice of hairstyles were true.

      One of the men goes to a hairdresser salon to ask for a hipster haircut and a twirly moustache, both of which are supposedly not allowed.

      There is some good information on the annual Operation Foal Eagle military exercises conducted by the US and South Korea near the North Korean border.

  1. D'Esterre says

    Watching this film, I was reminded of a relative’s experience in North Korea.

    It was almost two decades ago; my relative spent some time doing business there. Their account of the country differed markedly from what we were being told at that time by western news media.

    The countryside and the cities – and the populace – were in much better shape than we had been led to believe. At that time, Kim Jong Il was the leader; I believe that the sanctions regime was at that time not as tough as it is now. Even so, it was clear to me that what we’d been told was a version only of the truth.

    Over the intervening years, I’ve come to realise that the governing arrangements of other countries are the business of their citizens, not of us. Even were we to perceive other countries’ governance as harsh and undemocratic, what could we realistically do to change them? And even were that possible, in virtue of what should we suppose that our efforts at regime change would be greeted with enthusiasm by the populace? Remember Iraq, if anyone’s in any doubt.

  2. Peugeot says

    Enjoyable film , but why you people always insist in having music played is beyond me I can hardly hear a word you are saying

  3. Informative. The people look fit and well nourished, with little sign of the gross obesity that one finds in the West (apart from their Leader who matches Trump, tummy for tummy and jowel for jowel). The young Koreans remind me of the young Britons whom I saw after the years of Attlee as Prime Minister (first with Churchill then on his own, the only time in history that the health of a nation improved during and shortly after a major war). The broad streets (still mercifully empty of traffic), and the huge housing blocks remind me of Moscow in the 60s. No doubt traffic jams will come with prosperity; one hopes that Western style prosperity will not lead inexorably to Thatcherism and Snatcherism and The Gospel of Greed.

    The skating rinks remind me of the Festival of Britain and the South Bank. And the little girl out with her mother is a universal: The Mothers, the driving force of Life. Kudos to Vltchek for taking time out from the usual Nations as Power Struggle, to look slowly and appreciatively at The Family of Humankind.

  4. Antonyl says

    America bad, Palestine, Iran and North Korea good. Folks this is too simplistic, it is not black vs white.

    Better would be US deep state bad, as is North Korean’s deep state. Their nuclei consisting of Big Ego power freaks laced with ideologues for mental comfort. They are uphold by masses of “civil” servants of the “Befehl ist Befehl” type.

    • Antonyl: “Better would be US deep state bad, as is North Korean’s deep state.”

      Re war crimes of U$ (United Deep Shallow & Midlevel $tates) your friend Google can supply a list of 20-30 Countries invaded by The Men from Uncle $cam since the end of WW2, with 20-30 Millions killed including 4 Million North Koreans (“We bombed until there was nothing left to bomb” — The Man from Uncle, 1948).

      So I agree, U$ Bad.

      Now try Googling a comparable list: North Korea Bad. Good luck.

      • vexarb says

        Yarkob, th’nks for your link, Stone’s book is as relevant today as it was in 1952:

        Top customer reviews
        5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous Journalism

        This controversial book, The Hidden History of the Korean War by I. F. Stone was originally published in 1952 during the Korean War (1950-1953) and republished in 1970 during the Vietnam War (1960-1975). It raises questions about the origin of the Korean War, makes a case that the United States government manipulated the United Nations, and gives evidence that the U.S. military and South Korean oligarchy dragged out the war by sabotaging the peace talks.

        Publishing such a book in the U.S. during the time of McCarthyism, while the war was still continuing was an act of journalistic courage. In the 1950s, forty years later, declassified U.S., Soviet and People’s Republic of China documents both confirmed some and corrected some of Stone’s story.

        Until his death in 1989, Stone was an experienced and respected, independent, left-wing journalist and iconoclast. This book-length feat of journalism, with over 600 citations for his quotes and materials, is a testament to Stone’s search for a way to strengthen his readers to think for themselves, rather than be overwhelmed by official stories and war propaganda.

  5. engine44 says

    I would like to add the following to my below comment: The filmmaker refers to his film as a type of “poem” and not a documentary. Looking at it in that light, I feel he did an admirable job. Thank you for unveiling the humanity of the people.

  6. engine44 says

    This important movie needed to be made and presented. It is something that counters the Western propaganda. Having said that, the movie is not balanced. It implies that most N. Koreans are living a fine life by Western standards. This despite the world’s sanctions. I believe that there are many poor N. Koreans who would prefer a better life. The movie mostly ignores their plight.

    The sacred facts lie somewhere in between the Western version and this one. Perhaps someone will do a more balanced documentary in the future.

  7. Kathy says

    Thank you for sharing this. I also wanted to agree that. It is these tiny drops of sanity and tenderness that prove. All is not yet lost to madness in this world. While this is so. There is always a chance . There is always a hope of peace.

    • Manda says

      Agree Kathy.

      This short film made me sob for some minutes I am not ashamed to say.

      Thank you Andre for keeping my soul and hope alive.

      • BigB says

        Amen to that, Kathy and Manda …amen to that …

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