The 16 Best Documentaries About South Korea and North Korea

Aug 27, 2023 | Best Of, Culture, History

Korea is a country that has a robust history and fascinating culture which many of us may not be aware of. That said, watching documentaries about Korea can be an eye-opening experience to those who are curious about exploring more information about this majestic land. From North Korean defectors to South Korean storytellers, there’s no shortage of compelling stories waiting to be told. In this article, we’ll discuss the best documentaries about Korea that are available for streaming today. Get ready to explore a unique culture and learn about the lives of people living in this beautiful country!


1. Kim Jong Un: The Man Who Rules North Korea

We travelled to Pyongyang, a city cloaked in mystique, to experience life under the autocratic rule of Supreme Leader and ‘Rocket Man’ Kim Jung Un. But what do we really know about this enigmatic and dangerous man? We spoke with people who knew him during his schooling in Switzerland and investigated the murder of his half-brother in Malaysia, trying to uncover as much information as possible.


2. Welcome to North Korea

It is an eerie world that has been largely untouched since the founding of North Korea in 1953. The population of 23 million people are living incredibly difficult lives, imprisoned by invisible borders and oppressed by one of the last true communist dictatorships. It’s a place so foreign to us that many decide to take a holiday there, at the same price as a stay in the Seychelles. For around 8500 euros, they receive rationed food and uncomfortable accommodations as well as constant surveillance by their guides. Claude, Henri and Jacqueline traveled through cities without cars, empty shops and casinos with no money to gamble.


3. The Cost Of Being Successful In South Korea

South Koreans have a long-standing reputation for their hardworking nature and dedication to success. With rigorous schooling systems and an obsession with labour, South Korea has worked its way to become one of the most powerful economies in the world. Yet beneath the drive of ambition lies a deep culture full of vibrant traditions, rich history, and stunning natural beauty.


4. North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Unbeknownst to most, North Korea is a country shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Despite being one of the poorest countries on Earth, it has been able to fund its nuclear weapons program to a point where it challenges the USA. This documentary shines a light into how this could be possible – with insights gathered from insiders over years of research!


5. Dictator’s Dilemma

We have a unique opportunity to take an intimate look at the inner workings of Kim Jong Un and his family. Through access to exclusive archives and interviews, we can explore this unpredictable leader’s vision for North Korea. Discover how he maintains control over his people while pushing forward with plans for his country’s future. We also get an exclusive insight into how he arranged the assassination of his half-brother in a daring airport attack. Get to know the mysterious Kim family, including his powerful sister, and understand what drives their remarkable leader. This is an unforgettable journey into one of the most exclusive and secretive worlds on earth. Don’t miss it!


6. The Great Game Inside North Korea

The rivalry between North and South Korea has been a tumultuous one, lasting for many years. In the shadows of this conflict, a hope arises from an unexpected summit with a US president to end the hostile divide between two nations. But how did we get here? This is the story of twists and turns, as well as great game that drove us towards this historic meeting. This documentary traces the important events that have unfolded, the difficult decisions made, and the struggles faced as we strive for unity in Korea. Through archival footage, interviews with key players both past and present, powerful stories reveal the inner workings of a complex geopolitical situation. As tensions mount and negotiations take place, who will come out on top?


7. North Korea Danger Tour

A small travel agency specializing in danger tourism is providing a unique opportunity to explore one of the most isolated and repressive states on the planet – North Korea. Join a group of three intrepid travelers as they bravely venture into this unknown territory, looking for something more than just your typical holiday experience. Dive deep into the culture of a totalitarian regime and learn about the struggles and hardships faced by those living under its strict rule. Experience first-hand how this once Soviet dictatorship has come to be renowned for human rights violations and the controversial development of nuclear weapons. Along the way, you will even attempt an escape from your official tour guide!


8. Success At All Costs

Korea is a land of ambitious and hardworking individuals. It has become one of the most influential countries in the world as a result of its tight-knit society’s relentless pursuit of success. Here, long work hours are commonplace and the stakes for students’ education are incredibly high. Korean culture is obsessed with achievement, no matter the cost.


9. Visiting North Korea

For a unique look into one of the world’s most isolated and secretive countries – North Korea – journalist Luca Faccio offers viewers an incredible perspective. With his lens, he reveals a world that is both awe-inspiring and chilling at the same time. From its grand architectural monuments to its desolate rural villages, this documentary will take you on a journey to a place where the people exist in the shadows of their dictatorial regime.


10. The Wall Between North And South Korea

The Korean Peninsula is one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world. The DMZ serves as a buffer between North and South Korea, providing an area of limited military activity that has been recognized as an internationally-mandated peace zone. It is estimated that over 1 million troops are stationed on both sides of the border, with hundreds of outposts and fortifications. Despite this, the DMZ remains a symbol of hope and peace for many Koreans, with its untouched nature providing a glimpse of what life could be like in a unified Korea. Documentaries about the DMZ provide viewers with an insight into the history of this fragile border region, as well as exploring the lives of those living on either side.


11. North Korea – Life Inside the Secret State

As the darkness of poverty and oppression permeates North Korea, a glimmer of hope is slowly being revealed. Smugglers working both inside and outside the country are breaking down barriers between the oppressed and the outside world through their secret trades in media. Brave filmmakers have captured these courageous individuals, showing how painfully real the situation is for so many North Koreans under Kim Jong Un. These covert North Korean filmmakers are working to shine a light of awareness on the harsh reality that many face in the country, and their inspiring work is offering a glimpse of hope for those living in darkness. It’s an important reminder that even when facing seemingly insurmountable odds, there is always a way forward. This documentary provides an eye-opening look into these stories.


12. Korea’s Latest Female Psychopath Killer

Jung Yu Jung has become South Korea’s latest serial killer to be caught after her identity was revealed by police. The details behind the case are disturbing, leaving many to wonder if her behaviour was influenced by watching ‘HwaCha’, a movie about a woman who steals another person’s identity. This chilling case serves as a reminder of the importance of staying safe online and understanding how much of an impact media can have on our lives. While Jung’s motivations behind her actions remain unclear, one thing is certain: the dangers that lurk in cyberspace must be taken seriously. By educating ourselves about the risks associated with the internet, we may be able to help prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.


13. Korea, The Tech Nation

South Korea has become one of the most advanced and modern countries in the world. Its technological achievements have pushed it to the forefront of international progress, but they may be obscuring something crucial – its culture. As South Korea continues to embrace new technology, what does that mean for its traditional ways?


14. Daily life in North Korea

Sung-Hyung Cho ventured beyond the usual stereotypes to bring us an unforgettable journey through the mysterious nation of North Korea. As the first South Korean filmmaker to be permitted entry, she was able to document everyday life and work routines of ordinary citizens. This documentary presents perspectives and conversations with locals that reveal their aspirations and hopes for a better future.


15. Korea: The Never-Ending War

The Korean War was an incredibly important period in the history of the nation. While it may have seemed like an isolated conflict to many, its impact had a lasting effect for decades to come. This is why so many filmmakers have chosen to create documentaries about this key moment in Korean history. From interviews with war veterans and survivors, to archives footage from the time, these films offer a fascinating look at the struggle, as well as a unique perspective on what it meant to live through this experience. From stories of heroism and sacrifice, to tales of resilience and hope, these documentaries are essential viewing for anyone looking to gain an understanding of this momentous period in Korean history.


16. Western Artists On Tour in a Dictatorship

It’s an unprecedented event – a group of Western contemporary artists have been invited to North Korea, a country steeped in secrecy and with strict rules on art. Arriving in the midst of escalating tensions between the US and North Korea, they’re determined to navigate this uncertain environment and make their mark through an exchange project. We follow as the artists bravely face the challenge of bringing modern art to a place where abstract expression is banned. Can they pull off this ambitious project and create a bridge between two very different cultures? Or will it lead to an unexpected War of Art? Tune in for a truly compelling viewing experience as we explore this creative endeavor against the backdrop of impending conflict.



Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

David B