Al Jazeera English has proven to be, perhaps, the best news organization going at the moment with their top-notch coverage of the events transpiring in the Middle East. In this particular segment of their program 101 East, they turn their eye to another oppressed nation: North Korea, specifically the Pyongyang University of Cinematic and Dramatic Arts. Here, as everywhere else, the curriculum is focused on the teachings of the state, specifically Kim Jong Il, heralded in his country as a cinematic genius. The university, then, is a training ground for the actors and directors who will make up the North Korean government’s propaganda machine.
To their credit, reporters Lynn Lee and James Leong have few illusions as to what their report is about. While they do manage to get inside the school, much of their footage is confiscated due to the draconian rules for filming within the university (only uncropped, stationary shots of images of the Dear Leader and his words). It is, however, an interesting look at how the elite live in the nation’s capital city. The country is once again experiencing food shortages, but while most of the country starves, its embassies instructed to beg for food, high ranking members of the North Korean government live in relative luxury. Of course, as we have seen before, not everything is quite as it seems in the DPRK.