The Mole: Infiltrating North Korea

Rating 8.2
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 1
Episodes 2 x 60 mins

This is a documentary that is so mind-boggling you’d be forgiven for questioning whether it’s genuinely credible or whether it’s a social experiment to see how gullible we are. It tells the decade long story of Ulrich Larson, an ordinary bloke and former chef who spent ten years of his life infiltrating the North Korean regime.

He worked his way to the top of the Danish faction of the Korean Friendship Association, documenting his every move with a secret agenda of unearthing the “evil” nature of the controversial country’s administration.  It’s mind-blowing that someone would dedicate such a huge portion of their life to this mission, hiding his true feelings so expertly – Larson posted videos YouTube declaring his love for North Korea, and was apparently loved back, receiving a medal to recognise his work in propelling the regime. It’s a fascinating and well-made documentary, and we have an interesting addition in an apparently ex-MI5 agent debriefing Larson for the mini-series. We also get some captivating footage from inside North Korea, including shots of the grey and bleak landscape, and the dinners organised by the state’s officials. An interesting insight that is revealed is that North Korea is apparently a booze fuelled culture. Well, they probably need it…

Camilla Long in The Times calls it a “terrific” and “fascinating” documentary, and says “the footage [the mole] brought back was dynamite.” The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston comments that the documentary is “absurdly brave” and “has all the intrigue of a spy thriller.” And the story continues, as it is being reported in The Telegraph that Denmark and Sweden will send the docu-series to the United Nations – maybe there will be a sequel called The Mole: influencing the UN?

First shown October 2020.

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