Michael Palin in North Korea
Michael Palin is on his travels again – to North Korea...
Comedian and actor Michael Palin takes a unique journey of 1,300 miles through North Korea. The Monty Python star, who was in the country for his 75th birthday, learns about life in the capital Pyongyang and explores the peaks of Mount Paektu.
Over the years, Michael Palin has travelled to all four corners of the globe and experienced some of the world’s most remarkable cultures, yet nothing could prepare him for his recent trip to North Korea!
The Monty Python star headed to the totalitarian state, which is ruled by dictator Kim Jong-un, to find out what life in the country is really like. But Michael thought his journey was over before it had even begun…
‘We were told to turn our cameras off as soon as we arrived,’ he says. ‘They took our passports and left us waiting for a couple of hours. I was getting apprehensive because we didn’t know if they had changed their minds about us making the programme – or worse, if they were going to arrest us.’
Luckily, the crew were eventually allowed into the country, and they were met by two guides, who gave them a tour of North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang. For Michael, it was a chance to see if the regime’s reputation for repression of its people was deserved.
‘Being in North Korea was like stepping back in time,’ he explains. ‘The people are completely cut off from the rest of the world and they had never heard of the Queen. It’s a different society to ours, but the people still like to laugh. I showed some locals a clip of
Dance from Monty Python and they all loved it!’
In this week’s first episode,
Michael visits a school and watches a volleyball game in the park, but he nearly gets into trouble when filming near a statue of one of the country’s former leaders.
‘A state official told us off,’ explains Michael. ‘He was furious that I was standing next to the statue with my hands in my pockets and told me it was very disrespectful!’
Unfamiliar territory… Michael visits the Hermit Kingdom
Apprehensive… Michael didn’t know what to expect. Inset: The star (left) with a military guard