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There was no way that our minders could control everything that we saw, nor did they really try to.” Although there was a momentarily tense encounter on the very first day of filming. “We were in front of the monuments of the two great leaders and there are various rules meaning that you have to film them in their entirety, and there are various ways you have to behave. I did my first piece to camera and I was quite pleased with it. But [the minders] went over to the director and said ‘you have got to do it again because he had his hand in his pocket and that was disrespectful’.” Palin, who celebrated his 75th birthday on the trip, describes the capital as “an extraordinary calm, tranquil city – there was a certain amount of serenity to it.” But he admits the rural areas looked desperately poor. “The fields are all tilled by manual labour, there are very few tractors. There is not a lot of food outside the capital and I can see that that is something they know has to change and I think they want to change it.” Palin grew fond of his female guide Li So Yang, 28, and even invited her to visit him in London – though recognised that wouldn’t be possible. “We did talk off camera about what she knew about the West – things you are not allowed to talk about on camera. She was curious about London and I showed her pictures of my grandchildren – and she was fascinated by that. I said please come and visit us – I know she can’t at the moment. But I don’t think she would have gone as far as she did unless she felt there was some change in the air. “We travelled in on the day the Presidents of North and South Korea had this momentous handshake.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2018-09-20/michael-palin-north-korea/