Michael Palin in North Korea

Michael Palin is on his trav­els again – to North Korea...

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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.

Laughs

‘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

The Fish-Slap­ping

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

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