Michael Palin has travelled to North Korea for new Channel 5 series

Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 11:41 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 12:22 pm

Comedian turned travel broadcaster Michael Palin has been to some of the most inaccessible and inspiring places on the globe.

But for his new documentary series, the Monty Python member was granted unprecedented access to one of the world's most secretive countries: North Korea.

Though few Westerners will ever travel to the secluded state, Palin was given permission to shoot a new documentary there.

The show will be airing later in the year on Channel 5, and was shot in the days surrounding the landmark meeting between leader Kim Jong-Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In.

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Entering the unknown

Always one to take the road less travelled, Palin visited "sites and locations rarely, if ever, explored" according to the channel.

Palin's journey reportedly saw him cover more than 1,300 miles across the country, taking in everywhere from the capital Pyongyang to the remote, snowy peaks of Mount Paektu.

He spent his time with ordinary people of the secretive and little understood state - citizens from all walks of life - and witnessed the country's extraordinary annual May Day celebrations.

But there was another celebration to be had - the broadcasting veteran marking his 75th birthday while filming.

'An eye-opener'

Unsurprisingly, it took complex, high level negotiations and planning to get the show off the ground; two years of work went into making sure it would all go off relatively smoothly.

Michael Palin's previous TV documentaries have taken him all over the world - but this time he's headed to truly secretive territory (Photo: BBC)

Palin said that an opportunity to visit the country was one he "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."

Will Smith, head of factual programmes at ITN Productions, said: "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."

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[Main image: Channel 5]