So, how does the nicest man in travel cope with a problem like North Korea? Putting Michael Palin into the centre of the ‘axis of evil’ is a fascinating proposition, as those who caught last year’s TV series will agree.
For those who felt that Michael Palin in North Korea was too short, this day-by-day account provides more detail and context to his two-week journey, as well as the constant behind-the-camera diplomacy that trailed them.
What makes his trip unusual is that Palin’s usual winning mix of genuine interest, good-humoured charm and that deceptively steely nose for humbug gets slightly handicapped by the regime’s potent mix of fear and propaganda and control. But how much can he risk by probing, not only for himself and his crew, but also for his handlers on the other side?
But amid the frustration, Palin perseveres. Recognising the humanity from behind the indoctrination, he then gently draws it out further, making small connections with his enforced entourage. Interestingly, as the former Python gains an understanding of this alien, secretive country, the since-stalled peace breakthrough by President Trump is reverberating around it.
After reading this, you’ll wander if maybe another ambassador – maybe one more familiar with dead parrots – would achieve better results.
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