• North Korean movie being filmed at the Korean Film Studio in Pyongyang, DPRK
    DPRK Movies

North Korean Movies | The Country I Saw Part 1

The Country I Saw - Part 1 (내가 본 나라 1) is a North Korean movie produced in 1988. Takahashi Minoru is a Japanese journalist who had spent some time in his youth in Manchuria and in Korea in the 1930s when Korea was a colony of Japan and after Japan had invaded northeast China. He visits the DPRK 40 years later.

You can see the movie in the video below:

You can read a summary of the movie below but we recommend you not to do so if planning to watch it!


While giving a lecture in Japan, 40 years after having been in Korea and in China with the Japanese army, Japanese journalist Takahashi Minoru is asked about utopian societies and about the Juche Idea. He says that such theories, though good, cannot be put into practice. His life motto is that one must see something in order to be able to judge it. When asked by a student if he had been himself to the DPRK to see if the Juche idea had succeeded or not, Takahashi decides that he should go and see by himself.

Pyongyang maternity hospital in North Korea, DPRK. Picture taken by KTG Tours

Going to DPRK

When applying to go to DPRK, the Japanese ministry of justice reassures the South Korean embassy that Takahashi will publish material they will be please with, implying that he will be critical of the DPRK.

Japanese house in a North Korean movie. DPRK cinema is a great way to see what the values of the North Korean society may be

Takahashi at home in Japan with his wife. He can hardly eat food because of his weak stomach and because he doesn't have any teeth.

As he flies over Changchun in Northeast China he remembers war scenes during the Japanese occupation of Northeast China. There we see flashbacks of him, 40 years earlier, flying over Changchun in a military plane with a Japanese military officer.

North Korean movie; Takahashi when in the Japanese military

Takahashi in the Japanese army

Arrival in Pyongyang

Takahashi arrives in the DPRK with many questions and a lot of skepticism. He stays at the Pyongyang Hotel, a place where many Korean Japanese stay at.

Plane from the USSR in Pyongyang in a North Korean movie

Takahashi arriving in Pyongyang. Notice the soviet plane.

He is amazed at how Pyongyang has changed for the better. His first impressions are "Rebirth, kindness and simplicity" and he writes down how Pyongyang is no longer the city it was under Japanese colonial rule or during the Korean War.

Exploring life in North Korea

Takahashi is initially set to stay 10 days in North Korea. He explores several aspects of life in the DPRK.


Takahashi declines to eat breakfast, he says that he is in poor health and that some liquor or milk will do as a meal. Moreover, he has no teeth. His DPRK hosts insist on taking him to hospital.

Pyongyang maternity hospital in North Korea, DPRK. Picture taken by KTG Tours

Nurse smiles at the Pyongyang maternity hospital on one of our tours back in 2009.

There he receives a free medical check-up as well as a set of new teeth. He also notices many locals queuing up to donate blood to the hospital.

North Korean movie the Country I Saw Part 1 shows how a foreigner is treated in the DPRK

Takahashi having a medical check-up at a hospital in Pyongyang

Meeting with artist

The Japanese journalist likes to decide where to go and what to see on the spot. He also likes to wander around by himself.

North Korean artist making a vase at the Mansudae Art studio in Pyongyang, North Korea. Picture taken by KTG Tours

Artist at the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang. Picture taken on one of tours

When at an arts exhibit he sees a wonderful vase and asks his hosts if they can arrange for him to see the artist as his daughter back in Japan is writing a thesis about her. He is pleasantly surprised to see that the artist was once a simple factory worker and is now a world class artist.

Values in Society; trip to a remote island

The Japanese journalist reads about a remote island in the DPRK and asks his guide to take him there without having scheduled the visit beforehand. He meets the local teacher there who coincidentally is his guide's niece and is impressed by the way she thinks. "Here a girl teacher volunteered to teach 3 children in a far-off islet. She said that the happiness of devoting oneself to others is bigger than that of enjoying benefits" he notes after his visit.

North Korean movie

Boat taken to leave the far-away island.


On another occasion, Takahashi is set to visit Nampo city. On the way he asks his hosts to randomly stop at a farm as he would like to see how ordinary people live in the DPRK. There he meets a 75 year-old lady and is surprised to see her understanding of and willingness to carry out the "rural thesis" written by President Kim Il Sung and how she feels that "[President Kim Il Sung] and our people are of one family."

North Korean farmer and grandson at the Chongsan-ri cooperative farm near Nampo city in North Korea. Picture taken by KTG Tours

Grandmother and grandson at a cooperative farm near Nampo. Picture taken on one of our tours.

The journalist then sets off to see the lady’s daughter, a team leader, in the fields. After chatting to her and when they are just about to leave, some young farmers excitedly come running to let her know that President Kim Il Sung is visiting the farm to inspect the arrival of new machinery. Hundreds of people in the farm flock to see the arrival of their President.

Japanese journalist interviewing North Korean farmer in the movie The Country I Saw Part One

City Family

Takahashi also meets a family of Korean orphans he had met years back before they were repatriated to Korea from Japan. The DPRK repatriated many Koreans from the 1950s back to Japan.

Japanese journalist interviewing North Korean farmer in the movie The Country I Saw Part One

Takahashi meets with the family and is happy to see that they have a good life and that President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il visited them.

Mount Paektu

The Japanese journalist decides that 10 days is too short for him to stay in the DPRK and extends his stay for a month.

Mount Paektu in North Korea. This is the most sacred mountain in the DPRK. Picture taken by KTG Tours

Cable car in Mt. Paektu

He insists on going to Mt. Paektu, a sacred mountain in Korea and the place where Koreans fought against the Japanese.

Mount Paektu in North Korea. This is the most sacred mountain in the DPRK. Picture taken by KTG Tours

Takahashi and his Korean host, Mr. Ryu, develop a friendly relationship throughout the movie

We also see him interviewing workers at factories, construction sites and farms around the country.

DPRK Movie the Country I Saw Part One. Here we see the Japanese journalist Takahashi interviewing a North Korean worker at a construction site.

Meeting President Kim Il Sung

Takahashi dreams of being able to see President Kim Il Sung, but says it will be impossible as he is just a journalist of a defeated country so decided to mail him instead. One evening, his guide, excitedly enters Takahashi’s room and tells him to go with him to the Children’s Palace. The President himself has invited him to attend the New Year’s performance.

While at the Children’s Palace, Takahashi notes that the mutual love between the Korean people and their President is the source of power of the DPRK which has enabled a new man-centered society to be built in the DPRK which no thinker could put forth and no nation could build, in reference to the Juche Idea.

Children's palace in the North Korean film the Country I Saw Part One

Takahashi meets President Kim Il Sung, who answers his questions, in person, and this is shown being reported in media across the world.

DPRK Movie the Country I Saw Part One

He describes this as the happiest day of his life.

DPRK Movie the Country I Saw Part One. Takahashi extremely happy to have met the President of DPRK

Takahashi receives a letter from his head office saying that they sent a letter to President Kim Il Sung thanking him for having answered Takahashi's questions. The head office also congratulates the Japanese journalist. He decides then that it is time for him to go back to Japan to keep working.

North Korean Movie the Country I Saw Part One. Takahashi receives a letter from is head office in Japan

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