The Red Chapel


Over at The Daily Caller, Meghan Keane has an interesting review of The Red Chapel, a Danish documentary on North Korea which picked up a grand jury prize at Sundance:

Drawing the line between information and propaganda can be difficult. In the case of Mads Brügger's documentary The Red Chapel, it's nearly impossible. The Danish filmmaker and two friends posed as a pro-socialist comedy troupe called The Red Chapel to gain entrance into North Korea. Under the guise of cultural exchange, Brügger filmed his two-week stay in the country, and the result is a rare glimpse into a closed society that is part satire and part political screed. The film is thoroughly fascinating, and just won the World Cinema grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend.

Because his footage was sent to censors every night, Brügger reserved his commentary for subtitles and voiceover in the film, which gives the humor of "Red Chapel" a level of Sacha Baron Cohen's style satire. But unlike a project like "Borat," Brügger's film has an overt political message.  He explained in an interview:

"People don't know that [North Korea] is Nazi Germany times ten. It's pure evil."

Tell that to your neighbors in Sweden, Mads, who think it is clever to produce hipster skinny jeans in the Juche dictatorship.

Check out The Red Chapel trailer here:

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  1. I’m having SCTV flashbacks…

  2. This sounds really excellent.

  3. I was pumped until I watched the trailer. North Korea is the most evil society, so let’s watch a guy lisp about pussy cats and pizza baking methods. What?

    1. I’d have to agree, awful trailer.

  4. Leftists = sick fucks.

    They constantly support and make excuses for Kim Jong ILL and Chavez.

    1. What non-communist leftist makes excuses for Kim Jong Ill?

      1. Historian Bruce Cummings made an entire academic career doing just that.

      2. Between this and the Hitchen’s Nork post below you might think their is an effort to portray NK socialism as a sort of “right wing” phenomenon. You know:”If North Korea was socialist it would be a good place” ergo RIGHTWING DICTATORSHIP!!1!!

        1. It does have fascist elements. Hitchens and company are only surprised by that because they don’t understand that fascism and communism both swim in the same sick sea.

          1. Facism and communism aren’t just int the same sea, its more like the difference between big mouth and small mouth bass.

    2. No, haven’t you heard? Kim Jong Il is a right-winger now, so they don’t have to make excuses for him.

      1. Goddammit, maybe I should read the replies too.

  5. Chavez I have heard plenty of apology for, but not so much for Ronery Kim.

  6. So what Tony wants to turn America into is a bad thing?

  7. North Koreans don’t pay twice the worldwide average for health insurance, Sweet’n’Low.

  8. Ah, yes. It’s all free. All the food they want. All the health care they want. The scurvy is just a capitalist lie.

    1. It’s a CIA plot. They have agents who remove all of the vitamin C from North Korean citrus.

  9. That is right and there are not any uninsured in North Korea and everyone has a job.

  10. Chavez I have heard plenty of apology for, but not so much for Ronery Kim.

    If there’s ever more widespread condemnation of the North Korean state than a Hitchens column and a Danish Borat movie, you’ll hear plenty of apologies. The “Kim is totally a right-wing Nazi now and not communist anymore” spin that’s getting pushed is wiser lefties’ move to thwart the unwiser left’s dictator-apologetic instinct, I suppose. But that instinct is their strongest, so it won’t work.

    “Kim is totally Palin” would, though, so that’ll get launched soon. I’d bet Tom Friedman gets that assignment.

    And I do remember that the inclusion of the Norks in the “Axis of Evil” speech was alleged to be one of the things that made it crazy talk, because Kim @ Co. are just harmless clowns. That’s a kind of apology. Racist kind, probably.

    1. The fact that Leftists spend more time screaming about Israel and the death penalty in the US than they do combined about the human rights abuses of Zimbabwe, Venezuala, Cuba and North Korea, counts as an apology by omission if nothing else.

    2. Yup. You hear very little Leftist criticism of North Korea. That in itself is apologetic behavior.

  11. “People don’t know that [North Korea] is Nazi Germany times ten. It’s pure evil.”

    So he’s saying that it’s even more EVIL than an AXIS power? I just wish there were some pithy way to combine those two words…

    1. No, he’s just saying that North Korea has secretly killed 60 million Jews.

  12. Some Dutch film maker / douche bag (juche bag?) made “A Day in the Life” – a film ostensibly about a worker in North Korea. He said he’d thought that NK had gotten a bad rap, and he wanted to present their side of the story.

    At least in making that film, he admitted that pretty much everything that was happening was staged for his benefit, and that he was not permitted to film many, many things.

    1. You know who gets a bad rap? The friggin’ United States. How about a special about the good things here? Nah, that would be unenlightened.

      1. The sad thing is that Europeans often believe that the US is evil because we’re so “laissez-faire“. It’s like talking to Democratic Underground posters.

        1. Have you ever watched the BBC or other foreign news channels? All they ever talk about is America’s poverty and crime. If you had never been here and just watched the BBC, you would think the entire country is some combination of the poorest areas of Apalachia and East St. Louis. The media over there really goes the extra mile to ensure that their populations have no idea what the country is really like. Otherwise, the proles might get wise.

          1. There’s some truth to that. Several of my European friends have expressed surprise at how nice the U.S. is. Granted, most of the people I knew from Europe were visiting the Florida beaches and were likely inebriated and enjoying easy American women at the time, so maybe they were somewhat biased.

          2. Ha ha – that reminds me of the East German news reports they referenced in Goodbye, Lenin! – always talking about drug addiction and violent crime in the West.

            1. Maybe it’s for the best that they think we’re all battle-hardened gangster-cowboys.

              1. On dope, no less.

                1. If only American life were that interesting.

              2. I love watching euro news it makes me feel tough to be able to survive in this crime ridden, poverty stricken, no health care havin’, ignorant backwater filled with racists, fascists, capitalists, and (ohno!) REDNECKS. Oh yeah and we’re dopers too.

          3. Last time I was working in Tokyo, I had finally convinced my japanese co-workers that I wasn’t some crazy killer from the Wild West. (I don’t look all that crazy, but in their eyes all americans are violent loonies.)

            Then there was some sort of gun rampage in the US that hit the internet sites. I can’t remember the exact words in the conversation, but my co-workers asked me about why americans love their shooting irons so much. They assumed that since I wasn’t a raving maniac that I didn’t own any guns and would give them the standard tripe about our culture of violence. They were stunned when I told them that I owned a lot of guns.

            I told them that I didn’t own any handguns, but that didn’t make it better. Especially when I told them about one of my .22 rifles that I use for squirrel hunting. Turns out it would be like a Japanese guy bragging about his dog gun here.

            So yeah, the take on Americans overseas in Asia tends to be that we are a short hop from going on a killing spree at any given time.

            1. And yet the gun ranges in Hawaii are packed with Japanese tourists.

              “That which is denied is most desired.”

              1. And the boat to the pearl harbor landmark are also packed with Japanese tourists. I remember looking at an old veteran thinking that if I found it awkward, then he must feel like crap.

            2. You should have bragged about dad’s M1 Garand that he used on Iwo Jima.

            3. That’s because they don’t have many squirrels and regard them as cute little animals, not rodents. I think squirrels are a endangered/threatened species in Japan, too.

        2. I wish it were true.

  13. I once saw an online doc with these stoner type dudes that snuck into N.Korea, it was really strange. They secretly filmed a lot of stuff. Very frightening and weird at the same time.

    If anyone knows what that was I’d really appreciate you posting the title, as I’d like to watch it again.
    It was about an hour long, chopped up into 6 min segments and you will remember the sad tea party girl.

    1. perhaps?

      1. Yeah, that’s it.

        Watching it really affected me, and then I forgot where the hell I saw it.

        Thanks Mr. Penguin

      1. Baked Penguin…I am in your debt sir…that was fucking fabulous! I want to party with the Vice TV guys!

        1. They have some major balls, that’s for sure.

          1. Shane Smith: Balls of steel or just plain crazy? Tough call. The VBS series should be required viewing in high schools.

            I love their intro story to the videos, especially this part:”They already knew we were journalists, and over there if you get caught being a journalist when you’re supposed to be a tourist you go to jail. We don’t like jail. And we’re willing to bet we’d hate jail in North Korea. But we went for it.”


      2. Part 2 and Part 3.

        I remember this being cut up into more segments previously.

        1. that vice tv north korea shit is so sad. it makes me want to bash tony’s face in.

          1. With a name like “fists of capitalism” you’re just the chap to do it.

          2. My thought watching this:

            What a half-assed job Fidel Castro did.

            Look if you’re going to go for it, don’t hold back. Cuba these days is just Cuba with 10% of your wealth otherwise and 30% of your freedom otherwise. Ho-hum.

            North Korea, OTOH, really went for it. There’s something really poetic about it all, if what was done to these people wasn’t so awful. It would make a great dystopian fiction movie, and an awful real life reality.

      3. The Vice.TV guide is probably the best video documentary of North Korea ever.

      4. Did you see the Vice Guide to Liberia? I can’t decide if it’s more or less insane than North Korea. Make sure to check out the Vice Guide to Sex and Real Norwegian Black Metal too.

        1. Thanks so much for the suggestion. I felt equal parts of utter distaste and wow how can you fucking indoctrinate an entire country so that 120,000 people put on a gymnastics musical for tourists.

          I had a sinking feeling that the karaoke girls singing Anarchy in the UK along with Shane probably got sent to a camp the next day.

          Lastly, could someone please rescue Tea girl from NK? She seemed pretty cool.

  14. I saw a documentary last year (released last year also, i think) on North Korea. It was great and frightening at the same time. One of the things mentioned is that if one commits a crime against the state, 3 generations of the faimly are penalized. Sometimes you have grandparents, children and grandchildren in concentration camps.

    Here is a link to the site:

    1. I would like such a system for US politicians who engage in criminal activity. It would have been very convenient for dealing with the Kennedys.

  15. The secret weapon that will finally bring down the North Korean regime: Scantily clad South Korean pop girl groups loyal to Iowa Hawkeye football!…..-dots.html

    1. They could get me to defect to Dubuque. Ames, even.

      1. BTW, I was referring to Girls Generation – not the Dear Leaders.

        1. Is there a difference?

  16. Michael,

    You’re more familiar with European conventions (I assume).
    When Jacob describes himself as, “spastic,” does that equate to the term cerebral palsy here in the States?


  17. If you were to listen to the debate, and frankly how some of you went after North Korea, you’d think this thing was, uh, some Bolshevik plot!

  18. bestpriceforsales powershot s90 What’s a bit insipid about this is that the camera’s LCD screen does not show this, it actually corrects the image for display on the screen

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