TV Review: Educating North Korea
The program, broadcast on BBC One on February 3, begins summarizing the Kim’s control over the country and its people and reminds us that Kim Jong Un recently had his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, put to death.
“Remarkably, weeks before his death, we gained access to North Korea to film a pioneering experiment,” said reporter Chris Rogers during the introduction.
Although perhaps more remarkable than the timing of the visit is that is happened at all.
The last time Panorama tackled North Korea was in an April broadcast that saw reporter John Sweeney spend eight days in the country undercover with a group of students from the London School of Economics.
Sweeney’s tactics attracted condemnation from the LSE and the result was a documentary that offered little new information for anyone that follows North Korea closely.
That’s not the case this time.
James Kim, the president of PUST, spent 18 months working to get the BBC crew into North Korea and when they got there, Rogers spent ten days at PUST.
Our reward is some of the best footage yet seen from inside the university.
There’s much to investigate: the lessons being taught the students, the amount of control and freedom the students enjoy, the life of the lecturers and the apparent contradiction of a university run and funded by Christians in a country that bans organized religion.
Rogers, perhaps wisely, focused on the students. We got to see a glimpse of their daily lives, from the marching songs sung in the morning to the Sunday chore of cleaning the university’s juche monument.
He also spoke to a number of students on a diverse range of subjects. Sometimes the questioning strayed too close to controversial issues and a minder stepped in or the student was wise enough to provide a safe answer.
If the documentary made one mistake, it was to take everything the students said at face value. The students aren’t stupid enough to go off script and say what they really think when it comes to questions about ideology and North Korea, especially with a camera focused on them.
But this is North Korea and there’s only so much second-guessing you can do before you start to question everything.
Later, during an interview with three students who had studied in the U.K., Rogers did later question if the answers he was getting were being given out of fear.
Still, that’s only a minor complaint.
Through “Educating North Korea” we get to see a unique view inside PUST that few others have seen.
The program makes an interesting companion to any one of the interviews recently published with Will Scott, a computer science lecturer who recently returned from North Korea. Several can be found in a series posted last week on this site (linked below) or through a Google search of other news sites.
“Educating North Korea” is available for a limited time through BBC iPlayer in the U.K. It will also be shown later this week on BBC World News, the BBC’s global news TV channel.
No related posts.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Martyn Williams on February 4, 2014 at 15:35, and is filed under Media, Television. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
about 2 months ago - 3 comments
By Tara Conlan, TheGuardian.com BBC News should consider partnerships with foreign broadcasters and look at launching new services, such as radio news for North Korea or a TV channel in Africa, according to a report. Sir Howard Stringer’s report, commissioned by BBC head of news James Harding, offers a range of recommendations to expand its…
about 6 months ago - 3 comments
Will Scott, a computer scientist from Washington state, just returned from several months as a guest lecturer at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). In an interview with North Korea Tech and in posts on Reddit, Scott spoke about what it’s like to be at PUST. This is part two of a three-part…
about 6 months ago - 8 comments
Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) is one of the more ambitious international ventures in North Korea of the last few years. Almost ten years in planning, PUST is the country’s first privately-run university and backed with funds from evangelical Christian organizations in the U.S. and overseas. It currently has several hundred students and…
about 1 year ago - 6 comments
One of the revelations from a recent interview conducted by Reuters with Park Chan-mo, co-founder of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), is that the entire university connects to the Internet through a single IP address. IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are the numeric addresses that computers use to route data traffic on the…
about 3 years ago - 2 comments
The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology enrolled an additional 100 students at the start of the current academic semester, according to a foundation that supports the school. The first classes at PUST began in October 2010 with 160 students enrolled, said reports at the time. The latest intake will take the student body to…
about 3 years ago - No comments
Long-time North Korea watchers will be familiar with the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). The project has been planned and talked about for years and always seemed ready to start “next year.” Well, that time has finally come, according to a report in the New York Times. The first classes, in technical English,…