Michael Palin shoots travel documentary in North Korea | It's Monty Pyongyang's Flying Circus

Michael Palin shoots travel documentary in North Korea

It's Monty Pyongyang's Flying Circus

He has been to some of the most remote corners of the world. Now Michael Palin has just returned from a place very few Westerners are allowed to enter: North Korea.

The globetrotting former Python was shooting an exclusive documentary series, with unprecedented access to the secretive pariah nation, which will air on Channel 5later this year.

He shot the programme in the days around the landmark meeting between leader Kim Jong-Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In. The broadcaster says: ‘Michael and the crew captured these historic days with the ordinary people of this secretive and little understood country. Michael visited sites and locations rarely, if ever, explored in his journey across the country, while spending time with citizens from all walks of life and witnessing the country’s extraordinary annual May Day celebrations.’

Palin covered more than 1,300 miles across the country, from the capital Pyongyang to exploring the snowy peaks of Mount Paektu. He also celebrated his own 75th birthday whilst in the country.

He said: ‘To visit North Korea was an opportunity I couldn't turn down. For somewhere that is so often in the forefront of the news, it remains a complete mystery to most of us. That we were able to travel across the country and get some sense of everyday life was enormously exciting. 

‘The visit was an eye-opener for me, and I'm sure it will be the same for others. In all my travels around the world I have never had the same sense of fascination and revelation as on this journey to North Korea.’

The programme took two years of planning and a series of complex high level negotiations from programme-makers ITN to get unprecedented access.

Guy Davies, Channel 5's factual commissioning editor said: ‘Michael Palin is the best travel presenter of his generation, and for him to make his first series for Channel 5 with such a timely and extraordinary journey is thrilling. 

‘His natural curiosity and sensitivity make him the ideal person to visit and discover North Korea, and meet the people who have been hidden from the world for so long.’

Will Smith, head of factual programmes at ITN Productions said: ‘We are thrilled to be working with Michael Palin on this project which has taken two years to come to fruition. 

‘Given the constantly shifting political landscape between North Korea and the rest of the world this insight into life for ordinary people in what is often dubbed a "hermit kingdom" could not be more relevant.’

Donald Trump is due to meet President Kim in Singapore on June 12, further bringing attention to the isolated nation.

Published: 21 May 2018

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