National Geographic will premiere Inside North Korea: Race to Peace on Sunday, June 10, at 10/9c, two days before the summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump takes the world stage.
Inside North Korea: Race to Peace is the story of the twists and turns leading to this momentous event, following 70 years of hostilities on the Korean Peninsula.Combining current and archival footage with insights from leading dignitaries and noted experts, including new interviews with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico and U.S. North Korea emissary.
Inside North Korea: Race to Peace moves beyond the headlines to dive into the story behind what could be one of the most significant diplomatic events of our time.
Setting the Stage
On March 26, 2018, a passenger train departed Pyongyang, North Korea. Twenty-one bulletproof cars crossed the border into China and the international community was abuzz with speculation. Who was onboard? As the train reached its final destination in Beijing, it was revealed that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un was on it. Kim Jong Un met with China’s President Xi Jinping on this, his first trip outside North Korea since his he took power in 2011, and it was his first meeting with a foreign leader.
Kim Jong Un would visit China again and South Korea, to meet with President Moon Jae-in. Are these the first steps to what may be the most important diplomatic event of our young century? The on-again, off-again, summit between Kim Jong Un and Trump is now on again, and the two leaders will meet in Singapore on June 12. Could this be a path to peace on the Korean Peninsula and a way to bring the North Koreans into the international fold after 70 years of isolation?
National Geographic’s Role
National Geographic played an interesting, albeit unintentional, role in the creation of a separate North and South Korea. Near the close of World War II, in August 1945, the U.S. sought to divide the Korean Peninsula after the surrender of Japan. When the State Department’s Charles Bonesteel and future Secretary of State Dean Rusk were tasked with determining how to divide the zones of occupation they selected the 38th parallel based on a National Geographic Society map that would be featured in an issue of National Geographic Magazine.
How We Got Here
Inside North Korea: Race to Peace takes an unflinching look back at the complicated diplomatic history of the region, with a trained eye on the future. “I think he [Kim Jong Un] does have a good hand to play,” Albright says in the special. “He has managed to scare the whole region into doing something.” While all eyes will be on June 12, proper historic context will only enhance what unfolds. For Inside North Korea: Race to Peace Christine Weber is executive producer and Robert Zakin is the writer and producer.