4-Part Documentary Premieres with Back-to-Back Episodes
Sunday, November 11 & Sunday, November 18 at 9 PM ET/PT on NGC
Much of the world got its first real glimpse of North Korea’s elusive current leader, Kim Jong Un, earlier this year when he met with President Donald Trump in Singapore. But to really understand Kim and his place in the history of North Korea, you need to go back more than 70 years, to when his grandfather, and then father, were the leaders of the “hermit kingdom.” It is a story of how a minor guerrilla fighter emerged from the battlefield to take control of a country desperate for leadership, and of a family dynasty unlike any the world has seen in modern times.
The series explores the motivations and personalities of the world’s only hereditary communist state, combining expert insight, firsthand testimony and one of the largest collections of archival footage related to the Kim dynasty assembled for broadcast.
Historic moments in the Kim family’s trajectory are captured with nearly 30 firsthand testimonies and rare interviews presented in the series, including from Shin Jyeung-Kyun, son of kidnapped South Korean filmmakers; Choi Jae Wook, press secretary for the South Korean president; retired Col. Victor Vierra, in his first television interview, who was stationed at the Demilitarised Zone at the time of the axe murders of August 1976, when two United States Army officers were killed by North Korean soldiers; Kang In-Deok, director of the Korean CIA, North Korea bureau; Ko Young-Hwan, interpreter for Kim Il Sung; Michael Yi, interrogation specialist for the American CIA; Kim Hyun Hui, former North Korean espionage agent and the bomber of Korean Airline Flight 858; American basketball star Dennis Rodman, in one of his most in-depth and candid interviews on his relationship with the current leader; and many others.
This four-part series documents the birth of the Kim dynasty by examining the rise and rule of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il Sung; his son, Kim Jong Il; and his grandson and the current leader, Kim Jong Un. The episodes include the following:
Premieres Sunday, Nov. 11, at 9/8c
For decades, Korea and its people laboured 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 US Navy ship – the USS Pueblo – taking American sailors prisoner, and the infamous tree-cutting axe murders in the Demilitarised 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 behaviour in trying to immitate 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.