The Kim dynasty and North Korea’s nuclear weapons | DW Documentary

North Korea. Geographically small, it nonetheless looms large in the geopolitical consciousness. The country is isolated, its population desperately poor. The Kim dynasty has ruled for three generations. How does this ruling family manage to make its power felt around the world?

The nuclear program is central to North Korea’s strategy. For decades, the regime devoted increasingly large amounts of its resources to acquiring the bomb. Then, in 2006, North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb for the first time. It was a signal to the world: North Korea was a force to be reckoned with.

The Kim dynasty has also acquired strong partners. China regards the country as a military buffer zone and keeps it heavily dependent on its economy. With China in its corner, North Korea is not intimidated by the United States. Now, North Korea is also allying with Russia and supporting it in the war against Ukraine.

Propaganda, intimidation and surveillance form the pillars of North Korean society. The state’s top-secret structures are largely opaque because the country has been hermetically sealed off from the outside world. The Kim dynasty began with regime founder Kim Il-sung, who was in power from 1948 to 1994. Creating a unique cult of personality, he built a regime according to his own ideas. After his death, his son Kim Jong-Il was in charge until his death 2011. Then, Kim Jong-Il’s son, Kim Jong-un, took over the leadership position. Should Kim Jong-un die, his sister or daughter are considered his likeliest successors.

The North Korean government exercises total control over the country and its population. With the help of a comprehensive surveillance system, the state engages in extreme repression, using everything from intimidation to prison camps and death sentences to keep its people in check.

With the help of leading experts, including former officials of the Pyongyang regime, the film analyzes the strategies deployed by the North Korean government.

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