Michael Palin in North Korea

Michael Palin in North Korea

Series 1 - Episode 1



‘The most revealing journey of my life,’ says Palin of this trip, and there is indeed something rivetingly strange about what he and his crew discover of life in North Korea. Even with the tight restrictions on what they can film, we get a sharp sense of both the ordinariness of life in a totalitarian state and the unnerving gaps.

There is no advertising. The roads are untroubled by cars. Hardly anybody has a mobile phone and there is no internet. You wonder why the skyline looks neat, then you realise there are no aerials or satellite dishes. Palin is woken on his first morning in Pyongyang by haunting music played on a PA throughout the city. “It sounds vaguely Brian Eno,” he notes. Soon, he gets beneath the repressive surface to glimpses of humanity, including a school where, in a touching scene, he persuades a teenage student to recite her poem.


The comedy actor presents the first of two programmes documenting life for many of the millions who live, work and have families in North Korea. Michael's arrival coincides with the historic meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and South Korean president Moon Jae-In, as he embarks on a journey of some 1,300 miles of the reclusive nation south to north visiting sites and locations rarely, if ever, explored by Westerners, determined to spend time with everyday Korean citizens from all walks of life.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Michael Palin
Executive Producer Will Smith
Series Director Neil Ferguson
Series Producer Neil Ferguson