National Geographic has released the first five minutes of its upcoming docuseries, “Inside North Korea’s Dynasty,” exclusively to TheWrap. The four-part series aims to penetrate the secretive communist regime by taking a look at its ruling family.
From 72 Films, the series will examine the Kim family, the communist dynasty which has ruled North Korea for the last three three generations, by using expert insight, first-hand testimony and archival footage. Kim Jong Un’s unlikely pal Dennis Rodman will also make an appearance.
The series will span multiple decades, beginning with the rise and rule of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sun, through his son, Kim Jong Il, and his grandson and the current leader, Kim Jong Un.
According to the network, the series “provides a look at the Kim dynasty more complex and comprehensive than ever attempted before, revealing the workings behind the formidable family dynamics at the heart of an extraordinary country.”
“National Geographic was clear from the start — they wanted a definitive documentary on the Kim dynasty, unlike anything produced before,” said 72 Films. “We immersed ourselves in this project for a year, looking through archives that have not been viewed in decades and interviewing almost 50 people with perspectives that could shed light on this dynasty. Going in via the family was a fresh way to unlock North Korea. All three leaders are fascinating in their own right. They have all chosen to use their extraordinary power in different ways. The result is a film that is as unique in scope and depth as it is in insight and relevance.”
“Inside North Korea’s Dynasty” will premiere across two consecutive Sunday nights, beginning Nov. 11 at 9 p.m. See detailed descriptions of each episode below.
“Kingdom of the Kims”
Premieres Sunday, Nov. 11, at 9/8c
For decades, Korea and its people labored under Japanese imperialist rule. But in 1912, in a small town outside Pyongyang, a child is born — Kim Il Sung, coinciding with an omen of imperialism’s doom. This is the story of how an unknown guerrilla fighter rises to power, takes complete control of his country and makes himself a god in the eyes of his people. Recounted through firsthand testimony and expertly curated archive, “Kingdom of the Kims” explores Sung’s early days in power, how he starts the Korean War, establishes gulags for anyone who could be “hostile”, tries to assassinate the President of South Korea, and plays a dangerous game of brinksmanship with the United States, including capturing a U.S. Navy ship – the USS Pueblo – taking American sailors prisoner, and the infamous tree-cutting axe murders in the Demilitarized Zone.
“The Son of God”
Premieres Sunday, Nov. 11, at 10/9c
Unpacking the unique Kim father-son relationship further, “The Son of God” tracks the decline of Kim Il Sung and the rise of his son, Kim Jong Il. Jong is an unlikely successor to his father. He is not a military man — he is obsessed with cinema, particularly James Bond films. “The Son of God” tells the story of how he uses filmmaking and propaganda to win his father’s approval — and power. Not only did Jong love James Bond films, but the films influenced his behavior in trying to imitate a real-life Bond villain. Beginning in the 1970s, this film explores Jong’s rise to power as the heir apparent of North Korea, delving into such pivotal incidents as the kidnapping of filmmakers Choi Eun Hee and Shin Sang Ok; the attempted assassination of the president of South Korea; and the terror campaign waged by North Korea, such as the Korean Airline bombing by Kim Hyon Hui, in the buildup to the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Premieres Sunday, Nov. 18, at 9/8c
“Nuclear Family” begins as the Cold War ends — and North Korea has lost Soviet patronage, and with it, the security it guarantees and the economic support that has sustained the country for nearly half a century. As Kim Jong Il takes complete control of the country, he also starts a nuclear weapons program. With the country’s economy failing, his government makes counterfeit $100 bills, and sets up factories making crystal meth and other narcotics. He also employs a private sushi chef, and hosts lavish banquets and parties while the country continues to struggle economically — all while at the same time negotiating with the United States.
Premieres Sunday, Nov. 18, at 10/9c
The final episode starts with the death of Kim Jong Il and the rise of the new leader of North Korea — his son, Kim Jong Un, taking power at the age of 28. Using exclusive interviews, firsthand testimony and expertly curated archive, “Rocket Man” charts Un’s reign from 2011 to present day; delves into how Un consolidated power, by killing his uncle and his half-brother; examines the incredible story of his unexpected friendship with basketball star Dennis Rodman; retells his announcing that he has nuclear weapons that can reach the United States; and breaks down the historic 2018 summit with US President Trump.