Overview:Escape From North Korea: Thousands of North Koreans cross the border into China illegally every year. Living in perpetual fear of being discovered, with all odds against them, defectors still do everything they can to leave. If arrested in communist Laos, they may be sent back to North Korea to face prison camp or worse. The risks of escaping the North and heading to the South are so great that fewer than 25,000 North Koreans have ever made the journey successfully. VICE joins a South Korean pastor who has developed a modern-day underground railroad to move defectors from China to freedom and eventual citizenship in South Korea.
World’s Most Dangerous Border: The most dangerous place in the world is Kashmir’s line of control, which partially occupies the Indian state and separates India from Pakistan. Observers in both India and Pakistan believe the decades-old conflict between the two nations could potentially lead to the end of the world as we know it. VICE travels across Pakistan to the contested line of control in Kashmir, pointing out how close a nuclear apocalypse is yet again.
Expectations: It seems as we go into Episode 2 that we find each half hour has a theme. The theme of this episode is borders between countries and specifically, in this episode how and why individuals want to get across these imaginary lines. I am sure we will get a good education on the matter. First, I need to break it down a bit further.
Escape From North Korea: This piece is the first one we see by correspondent Thomas Morton(pictured). I will be looking to learn of his tone and style of reporting. The other two correspondents had a different delivery from the other and I am a bit curious to see how host number three fits in. I’ll save my evaluation of each in the “In Conclusion” section. As for subject matter, the “underground railroad” out of North Korea is going to be a bit harrowing. Even the brief sneak peek shoving people along in the dead of night is intense.
However, I have to be careful of expecting each and every episode of being as dangerous and intense as the last.
World’s Most Dangerous Border: Going in we know that Pakistan is a hot box of radical thinking. So, we can expect an intense situation. I am not 100% sure why so I suspect this piece will be more of an eye-opening education than anything. I am also sure that it should go without saying that the potential outcome of nuclear warfare is not an ideal scenario. So what’s the dispute? This border war has me intrigued. Hold that thought while I watch VICE Season 1, Episode 2 and I’ll resume afterwards.
Review: Getting right into it, here are my thoughts on segment oneEscape Form North Korea reported by correspondent Thomas Morton.Okay, we certainly know that North Korea is a baaaad place to call home. Especially due to current news life in that country is not a mystery. So, I didn’t mind that the political scene in that country was not the focus here nor was it the Demilitarized Zone that stands between it and South Korea. The perspective of this piece focuses on how to get to South Korea and safety and who would have thought it was so circuitous. The addition of a map to show us the route through the belly of China into Laos to Thailand before finding sanctuary is daunting for sure. Thanks to the pastor involved a few can find freedom, but at a price. The struggles in life some have to go through.
Thanks to Thomas Morton who is willing to take the journey at least part way with the defectors in question we get a complete story. He asks all the right questions gave us a well edited piece. We certainly learn that defecting is not easy and not without consequences.
World’s Most Dangerous Border: reported by correspondent Shane Smith.Wow, we thought our southern border was a difficult zone. It doesn’t have fully armed bunkers about or adamant soldiers posturing to the point of apoplexy or a sharp-shooter daring you to cross over the literal taped line. It is truly scary that we are seeing a time bomb about to explode here. Add that to the number of other locales around the world and we find a dangerous planet is the norm. The scenario shown here is almost unbelievable but the religious based fervor is very real.
Shane Smith sets up and explains this piece well. Again, the visual aid of a map helps bring all into focus. I like what Shane did by showing us both sides of the story and both sides of the border. He not only travels to Kashmir but to Pakistan and talks to analysts from both sides of the issue. The end result is the same; if the other side doesn’t wise up there could be nuclear consequences. It is an unsettling piece.
In Conclusion: I’ll keep it short. We have now seen reports from all three of the hosts of VICE. A quick evaluation about each as promised and I’ll wrap up. Shane Smith plays up the intensity of his pieces by walking right up to the danger; Ryan Duffy was sort of jocular in his piece and Thomas Morton appeared to offer the most journalistic approach in his first piece. At least by the first two episodes each correspondent seemed to add a unique approach adding yet one more layer to VICE.
Feel free to share your thoughts about the episode and/or its hosts. I leave you with THE MORNING AFTER video. Peace.
About The Author
Editor at Large of HBOWatch.com and the internet's foremost HBO expert.