The 18 Best Documentaries about North Korea

Jul 12, 2023 | Best Of, History

For those who appreciate being both educated and entertained, documentaries are an excellent source of real entertainment. North Korea has long been a topic of fascination for many, with its self-aggrandizing leaders having misled the public on numerous occasions. We present to you five powerful documentaries about DPRK – each one serving as a warning tale about the risks of isolation and cults of character. These films provide an insight into how life is in this mysterious country, giving viewers an experience that will stay with them long after the credits roll.


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

He is the most mysterious and dangerous dictator in the world, shrouded in secrecy with no interviews. Kim Jong Un rules North Korea and is now on the brink of developing nuclear weapons. But what do we really know about this Supreme Leader? We traveled to Pyongyang as tourists to experience life under his regime, spoke with people who knew him during his school years in Switzerland, and investigated the murder of his half-brother. We discovered that Kim Jong Un was born as a third son by his father’s second wife, though not much else is known about his childhood. When he succeeded his father in 2011 many thought he was too young or weak for power but they underestimated him – he quickly removed or executed all powerful members of the regime including his half brother whom two women are now facing death penalty for. His old school friend remembers him speaking excellent German and enjoying Western pop culture while back at home thousands have been exposed to relentless propaganda from books written by Kim Jong Un himself to statues dedicated to leaders across Pyongyang.


2. Escaping North Korea: The Painful Price of Freedom

The reality of North Korea is that for many, freedom feels like an unattainable dream. However, some brave souls risk it all to escape the oppressive and dangerous conditions of their homeland. This documentary follows those who made the daring journey and what they faced when they reached freedom. From leaving loved ones behind to becoming rootless in a new world, this film shows the painful price of escaping North Korea and finding true freedom.


3. The Kim Dynasty of North Korea

This documentary is a story of the Kim Dynasty, a family that has been in power for many generations. It will focus on North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong Un and his rise to fame and power. We will look at how he was raised to be an aggressive ruler who rules with cruelty. But also we’ll explore the executions and torment that he has inflicted on the people of North Korea under his rule. This documentary provides insight into why this man desires so much control and what drives him as a leader.


4. We Interviewed A Former Elite North Korean Spy

Chul-Eun Lee is a North Korean defector who escaped the country in 2016 by swimming six kilometers to South Korea. In this documentary, we sit down with him and hear his story of life in North Korea as an elite spy and what he witnessed while living there. This is an incredible insight into the secretive state that few ever get to experience. A must watch for anyone interested in understanding more about the reality of North Korea!


5. How Defectors Escape North Korea

North Korea is one of the most secretive countries in the world. It’s difficult for citizens to escape North Korea and seek freedom. This documentary follows a smuggler bravely helping defectors cross borders, only for them to become stranded in China. Ann Shin, a Korean Canadian filmmaker, captures this extraordinary story through her interactive documentary which uses video game-like techniques to explore life inside and outside North Korea. Watch as these inspiring stories unfold!


6. What happened to Otto Warmbier in North Korea?

This documentary will take you through the tragic story of Otto Warmbier, a college student from the US who was detained in North Korea back in 2016. He was released in a vegetative condition and died a few days later under mysterious circumstances. Former US President Donald Trump made a statement on his Twitter account blaming Kim Jong Un for his death. Afterward, relations between Kim Jong Un and Trump became warmer and Pres. Donald stated that he thought that Kim was not aware of what happened to Otto, much to the dismay of Otto’s parents. Watch this heartbreaking documentary to get all the details about what happened to this young man at the peak of North Korea’s missile crisis!


7. North Korea: Life Inside the Secret State

North Korea is one of the most secretive nations in the world. But what life inside this mysterious state really looks like? This documentary reveals all, with 46 minutes of footage showing a range of unique perspectives. From ox-drawn farms to luxurious lifestyles in Pyongyang and beyond, you’ll get an eye-opening look at how people live under Kim Jong Un’s rule. You’ll also see how smuggled DVDs, phones and USBs have changed North Koreans’ views on their situation – as smugglers try to break down barriers between the oppressed nation and the outside world. Don’t miss this captivating documentary about life inside a secret state!


8. Never Before Seen Real Life Footage Inside of North Korea

Have you ever wondered what life looks like in North Korea? This video offers an exclusive look inside the country, with never before seen real-life footage. Two French journalists were granted a visa to capture this rare glimpse of everyday life for the 25 million people living there. For years, media has been banned from recording any documentaries or taking pictures; but now you can get a behind-the-scenes peek into one of the world’s most mysterious nations. Watch this documentary and learn about North Korea as you’ve never seen it before!


9. Danger Tourism: My North Korean Holidays

Ever heard of North Korea? It’s a mysterious country that is known for its nuclear weapons and human rights abuses. But did you know it’s also an alluring holiday destination? That’s right! In this documentary, we go on a 52 minute tour around the country with a group of tourists who are looking to experience danger tourism. We’ll explore the realities of life in this totalitarian state and witness first-hand what makes North Korea such an interesting place to visit – from its unique culture and customs to the hidden secrets that lie beneath the surface. So join us as we take you on an unforgettable journey through one of the world’s most provocative countries!


10. Hidden cameras expose Kim Jong-un’s clandestine weapon and drugs trade

Behind the hostility of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un’s government is struggling with insolvency. To combat this problem, NorKor has resorted to desperate measures such as selling weapons and drugs on the underground market. This documentary exposes these hidden activities by using a combination of hidden camera sting operations and stories from families who have lost their loved ones due to wrongful imprisonment and torture in the country. Join us as we uncover the truth about what goes on in North Korea – a hermit kingdom that few know anything about!


11. What Kim Jong Un lied about

In this episode of Anton Lyadov’s North Korea Documentaries, he reveals the lies told by Kim Jong Un and shows you how people still manage to escape from one of the most secure borders in the world. Discover what life is really like in North Korea with an inside look at its citizens and their culture. See why it can be difficult for travelers to navigate this country. Get a full guide on traveling there so you’ll know what to expect when visiting!


12. North Korea: The Lies and Truth of Kim Jong Un

Have you ever wondered what life is like in North Korea? What the people are like, and how they live day to day? In this documentary by Anton Lyadov, learn all about the unique rules and regulations of a country where villagers drive vehicles that run on wood. Discover why it’s illegal to remove slogans from home walls, and why their leader is said to be able to forecast the weather! This 52-minute film will provide an insight into everyday life in North Korea – its culture, people, customs – as well as giving visitors tips for registering their gadgets with police officers. It’s an eye-opening journey into one of the world’s most mysterious countries!


13. Traveling through North Korea

Are you curious about visiting North Korea? Anne Lewald and Gregor Mollers, renowned filmmakers, secretly filmed a documentary on their tours to this country in 2013 and 2017. This video will help you understand what the place is like from an insider’s perspective. It dives deep into the culture of North Korea – a nation steeped in socialist propaganda and Juche beliefs – as well as how it has been shaped by its own history. You’ll also get to see what it’s like for foreigners who are trying to explore the notoriously closed nation while playing dual roles: furtively recording without consent while also authentically relating to their hosts. Discover what takes place when one relies solely on what they witness rather than being told, with Postcard From Pyongyang!


14. The Great Game – National Geographic Documentary

Explore the North Korean landscape and discover one of the most captivating stories in recent history. In this National Geographic documentary, you’ll be taken on a journey to uncover the twists and turns that have driven US-North Korea relations for over seventy years. With expert filmmakers, researchers, photographers, scientists, and journalists at your side, learn about North Korea like never before! This 47 minute film is an exploration into today’s political climate between two nations with complex histories – don’t miss it!


15. Dictator’s Dilemma

An exclusive interview with a former assassin and an intimate archive of the Kim family, this documentary takes us inside the mind of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. As he forges a future for his country, we explore the unpredictable ruler and how he maintains control over its people. We also learn about his daring assassination plot against his half-brother at an airport attack – all part of Kim’s dilemma as he strives to keep power in North Korea.


16. Yeonmi Park Interview: Jordan Peterson Podcast

In this special episode of the Jordan Peterson Podcast, we get to hear an exclusive interview with Yeonmi Park. She shares her incredible journey from living in North Korea to becoming a human rights activist and author. Hear what she has to say about life under oppressive regimes, the power of education, and how she overcame adversity. It’s an inspiring story that you won’t want to miss!


17. Dictatorship, Paranoia, Famine: Welcome to North Korea!

Welcome to North Korea – a country of dictatorship, paranoia and famine. This is the most closed off nation in the world and little has changed since its creation in 1953. 23 million North Koreans are living without freedom or basic comforts, prisoners of their own borders. But despite this seemingly hopeless situation, some French people have decided to spend their holidays here at an eye-watering cost! Our travelers will discover cities without cars, empty shops and outdated buses while being under constant surveillance by threatening guides. They’ll be forced to submit to visits, propaganda and tributes made out of reverence for the Eternal President – all as Kim Jong-Un prepares for his rise into power! Join us on this incredible journey through one of the strangest countries in existence today!


18. The Wall Between North And South Korea: A Border Story

The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a strip of land that serves as the buffer zone between North and South Korea. In this documentary narrated by Emmy® Award-winning actor Matthew Rhys, explore six iconic walls and borders around the world, from ancient ruins to newly constructed barriers. Learn about why these walls were built, how they affect people’s lives, and what happens when they come down. This series shines a light on hope for unity in spite of division and celebrates the triumph of humanity even in times of separation.

Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

David B