The winner of the 2001 International Emmy award for Best Documentary, Welcome to North Korea is a grotesquely surreal look at the all-too-real conditions in modern-day North Korea.
Dutch filmmaker Peter Tetteroo and his associate Raymond Feddema spent a week in and around the North Korean capital of Pyongyang — ample time to represent the starvation and deprivation afflicting a good portion of the population, and to offset such “contemporary” imagery as cars and public facilities with the conspicuous nonuse of these trappings.
As the filmmakers reveal, the North Koreans have no opportunity to compare their existence with that of the outside world, due to the near-total cutoff of news and free transportation. The one predominant feature of this oppressed nation is manifested in the scores of statues, sculptures, and iconic paintings of North Korea’s Communist dictator Kim Jong II, who has gone to great and sometimes ruthless lengths to convince his subjects that he has inherited godlike powers from his equally “divine” father, the late Kim II Sung (whose mummified body still lies in state, à la Lenin).
Were this not all too painfully true, Welcome to North Korea could easily pass as a grotesque fairy tale, out Grimm-ing anything found in Grimm. The film made its American TV debut via the Cinemax cable network on March 18, 2003.