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September 11th, 2003
A State of Mind

More than 1 million “volunteers” pack into downtown Pyongyang in January 2003 to support North Korea’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Photo: AP Photo/Xinhua

What’s life really like inside North Korea?

Explore life inside what North Koreans call “Kim Il Sung nation” with our photo essay and see how the past influences the present in our timeline of the Korean War. How much longer can North Korea last? For one analysis, check out our essay, “The Show Must Go On — But For How Long?”, by Korean affairs writer Aidan Foster-Carter.

About the Film

As the United States confronts North Korea over its impending resumption of nuclear weapons production, North Koreans prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their supposed “victory” over the South in the Korean War. This documentary will tell the story of two teenage girls and their families as the girls prepare to participate in this year’s Mass Games, an intricately choreographed display of dancers, acrobats, and karate-chopping soldiers, celebrating North Korea’s statehood and revolutionary zeal in one of the last surviving Communist showcase pageants. North Koreans rehearse for millions of hours in preparation for this unique extravaganza. We’ll see the girls and their schoolmates practice their routines in Kim Il Sung Square, their diligent efforts leading toward an awe-inspiring public performance. This film yields surprising insights into family life and daily activity in the little known world of the “hermit kingdom.”

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