The series is really wonderful, and worth an afternoon to watch. Shane Smith, the reporter behind the series, had this to say about getting a North Korean visa.
“Getting into North Korea was one of the hardest and weirdest processes VBS has ever dealt with. After we went back and forth with their representatives for months, they finally said they were going to allow 16 journalists into the country to cover the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang. Then, ten days before we were supposed to go, they said, “No, nobody can come.” Then they said, “OK, OK, you can come. But only as tourists.” We had no idea what that was supposed to mean. They already knew we were journalists, and over there if you get caught being a journalist when you’re supposed to be a tourist you go to jail. We don’t like jail. And we’re willing to bet we’d hate jail in North Korea.”
There are actually two areas open to foreigners in North Korea that don’t require the endless paperwork that Pyonyang requires to see the rest of the country: Kaesong and Mt. Kumgang, and I hope to visit both areas before my time in Korea has finished.