Vice (2013– )
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Back in the DPRK/California Burning 

Revisiting the Korean peninsula in the wake of the new detente; the state of California's future in the wake of increasingly deadly fires.


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Episode credited cast:
Shane Smith
Gianna Toboni


VICE Media founder Shane Smith has been traveling to North Korea for years, including during some of the most acrimonious periods in its history. Now, the country is on a charm offensive and appears to be slowly emerging from its isolation. In the wake of a series of inter-Korean summits and the first ever DPRK-US summit, Smith returns to the Korean peninsula to see how Seoul and Pyongyang are reacting to the new détente. California is experiencing its worst wildfire season in a decade, and November's Camp Fire was the deadliest, most destructive fire in state recorded history. While climate change is partially to blame, and its effects becoming more severe according to a new government report, there might be another culprit at play. Gianna Toboni travels to the scorched town of Paradise to learn how California can survive a future of deadlier fires.

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Documentary | News



User Reviews

Shows off what VICE does best/worst
23 December 2018 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

In this weekly news show produced by BIll Maher, there are generally two roughly 15 minute segments. In this particular episode, VICE shows off both what it does best and worst.

What does it do best? The show is very good at digging deep into domestic issues, IMHO. VICE goes to California to investigate the cause of the California Camp Fire that leveled the town of Paradise. The investigation shows that PG&E was working on the lines that day, told residents they might need to shut off the power but never did. They probably did not want customers complaining about the outage. Instead they have a town leveled by a fire of historic proportions. The segment discussed climate change's role and the resulting drought that makes any sparks from PG&E equipment potentially catastrophic. One person said that private insurers will probably decide that insuring homes in such dry forested places is not worth it anymore, allowing the wealthy to live there but having everybody else driven back into the already crowded cities. Then there were the heartbreaking interviews with those returning to homes burned to a cinder and the dramatic footage of the fire itself, so intense it turned day to night.

In "Back in the DPRK", this segment shows VICE's main weakness, again IMHO. The VICE journalists actually are allowed into North Korea and get some great footage including a military parade with the soldiers doing kicks so high you wonder how they manage to stay standing, a rather weird tour of personal items owned by North Korea's "eternal president" Kim Il-sung. (Eternal? Really? In the words of SNL Franco is still dead, and so is Kim Il-Sung!). Then the VICE journalists go to interview the "man on the street" in North Korea. When they ask "Do you think North and South Korea can really bury the hatchet and get together on some things?" the opinions of the interviewees are talking points straight out of the official handbook because to say anything else, on camera, to American journalists would probably mean a death camp for said interviewees who looked mighty scared and mighty malnourished for that matter. In South Korea VICE journalists were met by more enthusiastic interviewees who gave what seemed like more original answers to their questions. And they also did not seem malnourished. If VICE got the absurdity of asking anybody in North Korea their opinion, on camera, they certainly did not say so. So, sometimes - not very often - VICE can come off as a bit naive.

Overall, I would recommend the show. You usually get more in depth reporting and more topics off the beaten path than you get in anything on the networks or on cable.

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14 December 2018 (USA) See more »

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Vice Media See more »
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