North Korea: A Day in the Life

In this rare look inside North Korea, director Pieter Fleury gained unprecedented access to a country generally cloaked in secrecy. Using "a day in the life" format, Fleury follows the daily routines of a typical North Korean family as they go to work, attend school, and participate in English classes. Though the country’s inhabitants sincerely put their best face forward, the relentless images and ritualized practices of government propaganda offer a telling portrait of this controversial country. (from Special Features * Interview with director Pieter Fleury * TV news item * Impressions of North Korean TV * Screening in Pyongyang * Trailer
Year Released
Running Time
48 minutes
Date Released
2006 (DVD)
Average: 4.5 (4 votes)


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Lisa Keathley

Field of Interest/Specialty: Social Studies
Posted On: 01/08/2020

Lisa Keathley
Winfield Elementary
2nd Grade
Regular Ed Teacher
Reviewed:North Korea- A Day in the Life
The above mentioned review is detailed and accurate. It was an interesting and informative watch. I have very little knowledge of North Korean lifestyle other than what I have heard on the news or studied in schoool a very long time ago. This dvd was a real eye opener and it made an impression on me. Their lives are so infiltrated with propaganda beginning at home from a young child all through adulthood . The posters of their leader Jonkin II all over town, in homes, and schools. It seemed like everything was very regimented, scripted,driven,and controlled. I was left at the end of the video feeling incredibly disillusioned and sad for the North Korean people,

North Korea: A Day in the Life

Field of Interest/Specialty: Social Studies
Posted On: 06/01/2013

Jeff Sposito
Sharpsville High School
12th Grade Psychology
Video Review--North Korea: A Day in the Life
Bizarre is the word that comes to mind when reviewing anything about North Korea. I was shocked at the lengths that the North Korean government went through to paint a wonderful picture of a land that is harmonious and enlightened. Propaganda at best, North Korea: a Day in the Life is informative in many ways.
The first thing that stuck out in my mind, even before I viewed the video, was that it won a “Special Documentary Award” at the Pyongyang Film Festival. I was very skeptical of anything that won an award from a country that is isolated from every other nation on the earth. For some reason, I don’t think the Pyongyang Film Festival is not the same as the Cannes equivalent.
That being said, Peiter Fleury does a great job showing North Korean propaganda. The film starts at breakfast where a family is eating a great feast for breakfast. The family must be higher-ups within the party because the food they ate was probably more than the average North Korean eats in a month. The family then goes about their business of the day. One goes to school, one to the factory, etc. And the propaganda begins.
The school scenes were perhaps the most truthful. They showed a high school English class, where most of the students were beginning to be fluent in the language. It showed a school with a large number of students that were well dressed, and well educated. My students (who viewed the video) did not react much to the scene, largely because it was not that much different than what they experience. I doubt that they comprehended that most North Koreans do not attend schools like that. The elementary scenes got more of a reaction from my students. The Korean students were portrayed more like the Hitler Youth than young children from Asia, chanting patriotic sayings and worshiping Kim Il Sung. My students were shocked to see them being brain washed at that young age.
This was an informative video, not so much for the accurate portrayal of a day in a North Korean’s life, but more for the extent to which Pyongyang will lie. I showed this in comparison to another video that was more truthful just so the students can see video as propaganda rather than a truthful piece of North Korean culture. The video was good for high school level students with some rudimentary understanding of the North Korea. They reacted to many of the scenes, and they found North Korea to be more of a scene from a sublime movie than a legitimate documentary

Another note

Field of Interest/Specialty: Asian Studies
Posted On: 01/19/2012

The other review for this film does a great job, so I will just add a brief note: the DVD extras for this film are equally fascinating and worth a watch, as the director returns to show the completed film at the factory much of it was shot at, and some segments that were removed from the film are included with commentary, such as the director's attempt to go "off road" into a department store, only to end up watching an obviously hastily staged production occur inside that he cuts because the "hand of the government" is so obvious and clunky. Does this change the way you view the rest of the film (and whether you think it was staged for the director or if this is a real glimpse of a normal day) once you see what it looks like when the government tries to make things look "better" for the film?

North Korea: A Day in the Life Film Review

Field of Interest/Specialty: Social Studies
Posted On: 06/01/2010

Daniele Mecchia – Social Studies Teacher
Grade 9 – US History II (1845-1880)
Grade 10 – Government and Economics
Thomas Jefferson High School
Film Review: North Korea: A Day in the Life
The documentary film titled North Korea: A Day in the Life chronicles the daily lives of a North Korean family in one of the most closed off nations in the world. The film provides insight into the daily routines of a family in Pyongyang as they go to work, school, and attend English classes. It gives viewers a glimpse into how the government readily influences the lives of North Korean citizens as well as factory and school conditions in the country. The purpose of the film is to give viewers an indication of North Korean life from the perspective of the country’s citizens. It should be noted however, that the producer needed explicit permission from the government to make this documentary and therefore was subject to some constraints in its filming, such as location, subject matter, and the like. North Korea: A Day in the Life is a valuable teaching tool particularly in a Social Studies classroom and its versatility makes it adaptable to a range of lesson plans and objectives.
North Korea: A Day in the Life has a run time of forty-eight minutes, but also includes a number of special features. It begins with a North Korean family eating breakfast together and then going their separate ways to begin the day. The mother works in a textile factory where each day begins with the playing of patriotic music and a meeting reviewing the present day’s quotas as well as the previous day’s results. Conditions at the factory are very structured and regimented with workers being evaluated based on their performance. Power outages and other work stoppages occur, many of which are blamed on Americans for their imperialistic tendencies. The child’s day takes viewers into a North Korean school where they see children being told via intercom that they are the future of the country and need the love of Kim Jong-Il. The father attends English class where he and the other students are viewed actively and enthusiastically engaged in learning English.
Throughout the film, the presence of propaganda is pervasive. Pictures and statues of government leaders are everywhere-in the schools, the streets, the subway, and the factories. Along with a few instances of anti-American sentiment expressed in the documentary, the persistent use of propaganda helps viewers to realize how much the North Korean government controls what its citizens are exposed to. As far as a classroom resource, North Korea: A Day in the Life is best suited for use in a high school Social Studies classroom, particularly a government, economics, or world cultures course. It would be more effective if students had a general understanding of North Korea’s culture and governmental structure prior to watching the film. A discussion afterwards could then yield examples from the film that reinforce the students’ prior learning. Also, students should have a clear idea of what propaganda is and its purposes. This will allow students to identify and analyze instances of propaganda by the North Korean government that are evident in the film.
As a teaching tool, North Korea: A Day in the Life could be used in its entirety or specific segments could be utilized depending on the content of the lesson. The film is not narrated, which makes for a unique and more personal experience as the viewer feels transported into North Korean life. All commentary and dialogue is accompanied by English subtitles. In conclusion, while the content of the film was somewhat influenced by the North Korean government, it still gives the viewer a feel for how different life in North Korea is compared to life in America. This is a valuable realization for students as they compare forms of government and leadership around the world. Therefore, North Korea: A Day in the Life is highly recommended for use in the classroom.