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Your Students and Dennis Rodman Should Watch Frontline’s Documentary on North Korea

January 1, 2014 2:00am (EST)

Perhaps Dennis Rodman would not be in such trouble for his visit to North Korea and insensitive comments about political prisoner Kenneth Bae had he watched the new Frontline documentary <strong> “Secret State of North Korea.”</strong> It airs on <strong>GPB tonight at 10 p.m. </strong>and is an eye opener. It’s a good lesson on what life is really like in that country that your students and Dennis Rodman should learn.

In it, filmmaker James Jones, cobbles together smuggled footage from defected North Koreans to give a rare glimpse of what life is like there. It is definitely not a bowl of cherries. Just being caught with illegal DVDs there can land a citizen in jail. (Given how easy it is for young people to buy bootleg DVDs on the street these days in the U.S., I can’t imagine them grasping the magnitude of how dangerous the same action would be in North Korea.)

The documentary also depicts how ordinary people, many of them women, are defying the government in simple yet extraordinary ways. For example, families send money to their defector relatives living in China via hot air balloons. <a title="See how else they are defying authorities." href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/secret-state-of-north-korea/five-ways-north-koreans-are-defying-the-regime/ " target="_blank"><strong>See how else they are defying authorities.</strong></a>

<strong> <a title="Check out a full interview with filmmaker James Jones about the documentary." href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/pressroom/whats-it-like-to-make-a-film-about-life-under-kim-jong-un/">Check out a full interview with filmmaker James Jones about the documentary.</a></strong>

Dennis Rodman meanwhile has<a title="apologized" href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/01/09/261016883/i-had-been-drinking-rodman-says-in-apology-for-comments" target="_blank"> apologized</a> for those outlandish remarks he made during a <a title="CNN interview" href="http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/world/2014/01/07/newday-cuomo-dennis-rodman-part-two.cnn.html">CNN interview</a>, blaming it on the alcohol he drank too much of. But he vows to continue his unique brand of diplomacy and friendship with North Korea and its leader with another visit soon. We hope he watches Frontline’s documentary first.

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