Broadcaster Michael Palin has recently returned from North Korea, where he has been filming a world exclusive documentary series with unprecedented access, for Channel 5.
The historic meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In generated front page headlines across the globe making it a unique time to visit the ‘Hermit Kingdom’. As news filtered through the country Michael and the crew captured these historic days with the ordinary people of this secretive and little understood country. Michael visited sites and locations rarely, if ever, explored in his journey across the country, while spending time with citizens from all walks of life and witnessing the country’s extraordinary annual May Day celebrations.
At a critical time in North Korea’s history, Michael’s travels in the country will showcase life for many of the millions of North Korean subjects who live, work and have families in the DPRK. He covered more than 1,300 miles from south to north of the country, from discovering everyday life for the population in the capital Pyongyang to exploring the snowy peaks of Mount Paektu. Michael also celebrated his own 75th birthday whilst in the country.
After two years of planning and a series of complex high level negotiations, granting unprecedented access, Michael and his team were able to experience North Korea in a way that few Westerners have ever been able to previously, with his historic journey captured on film. This is the country and its people as never seen before.
Michael Palin said: “To visit North Korea was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. For somewhere that is so often in the forefront of the news, it remains a complete mystery to most of us. That we were able to travel across the country and get some sense of everyday life was enormously exciting. The visit was an eye-opener for me, and I’m sure it will be the same for others. In all my travels around the world I have never had the same sense of fascination and revelation as on this journey to North Korea.”
Guy Davies, Channel 5 Factual Commissioning Editor, said: “Michael Palin is the best travel presenter of his generation, and for him to make his first series for Channel 5 with such a timely and extraordinary journey is thrilling. His natural curiosity and sensitivity make him the ideal person to visit and discover North Korea, and meet the people who have been hidden from the world for so long.”
Will Smith, Head of Factual, ITN Productions said: “We are thrilled to be working with Michael Palin on this project which has taken two years to come to fruition. Given the constantly shifting political landscape between North Korea and the rest of the world this insight into life for ordinary people in what is often dubbed a “hermit kingdom” could not be more relevant.”
The series, due to air later in 2018, is produced by ITN Productions in partnership with director Neil Ferguson from FOMO Films.