‘Unlike the diaries of my previous travels, the North Korea Journal was not easy to keep. I was in a country which tightly controlled all information and deliberately distanced itself from the rest of the world. I had to be careful when and where I got the notebook out. If I was writing too openly they might want to read what I was saying about the country. Worse still, they might want to confiscate it.
But North Korea was not as fierce as I expected. I didn’t flaunt my notebook, they didn’t ask to see it. I was able to keep a pretty full account of my time in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The North Korea Journal is a record of two of the most unusual weeks I’ve ever spent abroad.’ Michael Palin
In May 2018, Michael spent two weeks in the notoriously secretive Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a cut-off land without internet or phone signal, where the countryside has barely moved beyond a centuries-old peasant economy but where the cities have gleaming skyscrapers and luxurious underground train stations. His resulting documentary for Channel 5 was widely acclaimed.
Now he reads his day-by-day diary of his visit, in which he describes not only what he saw – and his fleeting views of what the authorities didn’t want him to see – but recounts the conversations he had with the country’s inhabitants, talks candidly about his encounters with officialdom, and records his musings about a land wholly unlike any other he has ever visited – one that inspires fascination and fear in equal measure.