Michael Palin has taken us on his travels over the years. We’ve gone with him as he’s circumnavigated the globe in 80 days, gone pole-to-pole, and explored the Himalayas. This time he’s off to the DPRK, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, for a 15-day adventure with a small film crew and some preconceived notions of what he’ll find.
This small book is presented in journal form, his day-by-day activities documented and presented with a copious number of photographs. Day 3: Arrive at Pyongyang station. Day 8: A journey to the Demilitarized Zone.
On his travels he notes the ever-present images of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, painted in pictures or molded in bronze, always equal in size. He hears music played in loud speakers sounding throughout a city, the soundtrack of their lives. He sees Senior Citizen ladies in traditional dress dance “formally and carefully, as if in slow motion.”
But the places he goes are not the main message of North Korea Journal. Palin strives to give us sense of the people he encounters along the way. Their hesitance to engage with outsiders. Their love for their Great Leaders. He asks probing questions, and only sometimes embarrasses his hosts.