Spent my birthday in Pyongyang. At a film studio. On the set of the next North Korean blockbuster.

We’re still trying to process the experience. Everyone was warm and surprisingly open. Yet our shoot was unusually difficult – the entire experience, incredibly trying and energy-sapping.

Off to Jakarta today. More on our project there in a separate post. But first, photos, lots of them:

Our translator squealed when she saw this guy. He is famous. FAMOUS, I tell you.

We filmed on the set of a movie called ‘The Hunter’. Lots of guns and men in uniform.

Extras having a laugh.

The make-up ladies.

Those red splotches are meant to be gunshot wounds.

James and the troops.

The rainmaker.

Director Phyo Kwang rallies the men…

… and gets drenched in the process.

Gardening hose discovers true calling.

This scene was accompanied by a mournful Korean song about rain and tears and sorrow and tragedy. It’s still stuck in my head.

Also caught up with the film school students we met in September last year.

Un Bom has just finished writing a comedy and is busy with rehearsals. Midway through the interview, his mother paid us a visit, “I want him to be a true patriot,” she said.

Mobile phones – they’re everywhere in Pyongyang these days.

And two random last shots:

Watching the World Cup. North Korea lost 7-0. It wasn’t a happy evening.

The swanky new swimming pool and water slide (!) at the Kim Il-Sung University. A gift from the Dear Leader. Our translators were so very eager for us to visit. Figured we should at least share a picture.