Last week PBS 'Frontline' released a short documentary on life under the Kim Jong Un regime (trailer below). Using illegal footage provided by an undercover network of journalists and North Koreans as a backdrop, Secret State of North Korea weaves together commentary from experts and testimonials from a handful of the 20,000 defectors living in South Korea to tell a particular story of North Korea: it is a nation fighting flux, on two fronts. One with respect to an increasingly porous border, as the North Korean people are increasingly exposed to illegal foreign media. The other battle is being fought in the heart of Pyongyang, where, in the wake of Kim Jong Il’s succession by a boy still wet behind the ears, factions have developed within a government once defined by single-minded loyalty to the regime.
The good in all this: hope for a democratic future. The bad: Kim Jong Un’s response to loss of control with a reign of terror.the full transcript of the interview). Kim lacks the veneration his father and grandfather enjoyed, which complicates his particular dilemma. He came into power thronged by his father's generals; he has since purged almost half of the top brass, culminating with the forcible removal of his own uncle Jang Song Thaek from a party meeting in December and his execution a week later. His uncle was considered an advocate of reform and had served at the top of the government for thirty years. The documentary only briefly addresses the North Korean nuclear threat. Cha: "I think the basic question that rose to the surface to many decision makers was, does this guy know where the red line is? Does he know when the bluster should stop, or is he really going to do something stupid?" Ishimaru closes the documentary with words of hope. "It's not easy to predict when a regime will fall. However the foundations of change in North Korea are being laid. North Koreans have undergone a huge shift in their collective mindset. I think change will come."