I’m not sure how many American fathers and sons have chosen to journey together to North Korea, let alone document their trip in slick fashion with a half-hour video. But that’s the case with Jay and Todd Snider, who traveled from Philadelphia to the DPRK this past August.
What’s so great about their video is that they visit, together, a country that is of course entirely built on a father-son foundation. At one point, dad Jay notes that very fact with amazement during a day of sightseeing in Samjiyon.
“This is the second largest statue of Kim Il Sung,” he notes. “We have been looking at one statue or memorial after another to the father and son. Everything in this country is enamored , there’s nothing else. All the art, all their statues, there are signs in every town, pictures in every hotel.”
The pair’s room at a Mt. Baekdu resort was very nice, even though the TV didn’t work and their bus broke down on the way, forcing them to wait for another. Throughout, they are careful to mask the identities of their guides, so as not to get them in trouble. Certainly, it appears as if the guides allowed them to film fairly freely.
The duo also drop in the occasional bit of bombastic DPRK propaganda newsreel into their travelogue, to good effect. All in all, this is an enjoyable and realistic look at what it’s like to be one of a handful of tourists in a strange, limited-access country. Some of the best parts of the video are just shots of what the pair saw out their bus window, or on the ground when arriving at one of the sights.
The younger half of the Sniders makes great use of popular music for the soundtrack of their DPRK sojourn and also provides the occasional comic relief, be it in China the day of their departure for North Korea (“maybe the last recorded evidence of our existence…”) or when he and dad finally hit a hotel room with an air conditioner that works. This was August, after all. Enjoy.