Finalist, The Rory Peck Award for Features

Team Mindeulle (North Korean)

2011 - 2013, North Korea and South Korea

North Korea: Life Inside the Secret State

Hard Cash Productions for Channel 4 Dispatches and PBS Frontline

This film is based on the courageous undercover work of six North Korean cameramen – members of a team trained during trips to China by the Japanese journalist Jiro Ishimaru.

In this, their latest film, we see fascinating images of life inside the world’s most secretive state: a town square where Kim Jong-un’s latest speech has been playing on a loop for three months; a department store where nothing on display is actually for sale. And we see signs of cracks in the regime’s control with ordinary people standing up to authority: one woman challenging an official trying to stop her running a bus service, and another arguing about her right to wear trousers.

Watch "Secret State of North Korea", the PBS version of the film (US viewers only)


During the last decade, the work of Team Mindeulle (Mindeulle means Dandelion in English) has been shown in Japan, South Korea, the UK, and the United States. Its two senior members are Kim Dong-Cheul and Lee Hoon. Kim has been filming since 2009.

Stories he has covered include interviews with starving soldiers, homeless orphans, and  the running of illicit bus services. His daytime job is as a government driver. Lee Hoon is a local administrator in his forties.  He has filmed rallies in which people are compelled to idolize Kim Jong Un, the illicit use of Chinese currency in street markets, and the enforced labour of city workers on farms in the countryside.

Photo at left: Dandelion Invasion, by ®DS. The camera team is anonymous. "Mindeulle" (민들레) translates to "dandelion."

Judges Comments

“We’ll probably never know who these men and women are, but what they’ve done is completely unprecedented and extraordinarily brave. The consequences of being caught doing what they were doing are very clear – they would disappear. This is an enormously important historical document of a regime potentially at a tipping point".