[Film] Is “THE MOLE” Really a Documentary? A Must-Watch Film (Director Mads Brugger)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

I will write an article about this movie/book

Three takeaways from this article

  1. The documentary film is full of shocking images from start to finish and is unbelievable.
  2. The story of how the former cook took on North Korean officials and the various realities of North Korea that he uncovered are too horrific.
  3. It helps to understand why North Korea is so valuable to the world and how they can obtain a large amount of money through “business”.

I have seen many shocking documentaries before, but “THE MOLE” is definitely one of them.

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Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

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“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes used in this article are based on notes taken at the movie theater from movies in Japanese and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original movies, even if they exist.

The Documentary Film “THE MOLE” is a Shocking Work that Seems Like Fiction, in Which a Former Cook Infiltrates North Korea and Obtains Confidential Information

“THE MOLE” is a movie that I had decided to see since I saw the trailer in the movie theater. Because I was overwhelmed just by the information packed into the trailer.

After all, it is a movie that tells the story of “a Danish ordinary person who is a former cook infiltrating North Korea as a spy alone and exposing various truths that will surprise the world, and that 10 years of activity are shown as a documentary film.” Even watching the trailer, I couldn’t understand how such a thing was possible. Throughout the movie, I kept wondering, “Is this movie really a documentary?”

After finishing the movie and looking at the official website, I saw this written:

By the way, this film was broadcast on the British BBC and Northern European TV stations last fall, and in February of this year, it was broadcast on NHK-BS with the title “潜入10年 北朝鮮・武器ビジネスの闇(10 Years of Infiltration: The Dark Side of North Korea’s Arms Business),” which caused a huge response. Due to its shocking content, there were voices from all over questioning whether it was really a documentary, but director Brugger, who asked an expert to appraise the footage, stated that it was 100% non-fiction. The UN and the EU have already shown interest in the film’s accusations, and there is a possibility that it will lead to new international investigations in the future.

Of course, it is a film that anyone who watches it will feel, “Is this really a documentary?” If he said, “It was a fiction,” it would be the end of the film director’s life. So I think it is safe to assume that everything shown in the film is the truth.

Also, knowing that the film director of this movie is Mads Brugger, I thought to myself, “Oh, he might do something like this.” I’ve seen three of Mads Brugger’s documentaries, including “THE MOLE.” The other two are “The Red Chapel” and “Cold Case Hammarskjold.”

All of the films can only be described as “crazy,” and I think they are a bit out of the ordinary, both as documentary filmmakers and as people. And when I learned that such a person is the film director of this film, I was convinced of the abnormality of the film.

However, as I will explain in detail later, this movie is not a work originated by Mads Brugger’s idea. It was born when a former chef approached him to produce a movie.

So first, I want to explain how unique this movie is.

A Former Danish Chef Reveals One After Another the “Secrets” of North Korea in this Incredible Documentary Film

This movie shows the “dangerousness of North Korea as a country.” An ordinary person infiltrates North Korea as a spy and uncovers unknown secrets one after another. Moreover, the whole process is filmed openly with a camera. There are also hidden camera images, but basically, they are shooting inside North Korea with a handheld camera. At one point, the protagonist who has nothing to do with the secret contract filmed the scene of the “secret contract” held in a luxurious high-class restaurant built in the ruins in a slum area, as if it were natural, with a handheld camera.

The facts revealed in the movie are diverse. As rumored, North Korea is revealed to be “involved in the production of methamphetamine and weapons” with clear evidence. In addition, they brought out a “price list for North Korean-made weapons” that even military experts were not aware of, surprising them. Moreover, the top of the “Korean Friendship Association (KFA),” known as a peaceful organization, even reveals involvement in the production of methamphetamine and weapons.

Anyway, I’m overwhelmed by the information that comes out.

I have never actively collected information about North Korea before. However, I think I have gained some knowledge about North Korea through movies and books. Even just with movies, “Assassins,” “True North,” “The Red Chapel,” and the like come to mind. I can say that I have a bit more information than the “typical person” living in Japan.

However, “THE MOLE” had an unbelievable amount of information that easily surpassed all the knowledge I had gained about North Korea up until now. From beginning to end, it was at a level where I felt like there was no footage that wouldn’t bring shock, and honestly, I was completely overwhelmed. It’s too much.

And what was even more astonishing was the fact that the person who committed such espionage was a former cook, an ordinary person. Moreover, he was introduced in the movie as a person had never belonged to any intelligence agency or military organization before, having worked as a cook for a long time, but due to a chronic illness, he was unable to work and living under welfare.

Such a mere civilian spent a long time building a relationship of trust with North Korea, and he and a former Foreign Legion man dressed as an “oil tycoon” set North Korea up for a scam and tried to expose it for what it really is.

It really is a film with a development that seems to make no sense, as to what could have made such a thing. The documentary film “THE MOLE” is composed of various shocking images that the former chef, who spent such an astonishing 10 years, has shot and pieced together.

Why was Ulrich, a Former Chef, Interested in North Korea and Why did He Decide to Infiltrate North Korea?

Ulrich, a Danish man, conducted spy activities by infiltrating into North Korea. In the movie, it is not explained clearly why he became interested in North Korea. However, he mentioned a memory from his childhood when he understood the fear of a one-party dictatorship system during his 14th birthday party where a child from East Germany was also present. He then wondered which country had the largest one-party dictatorship system and became interested in North Korea.

It may not seem suitable as a “motivation to risk his life and infiltrate into North Korea,” even if it is explained in this way, but he actually said it, so there is no denying it. Anyway, Ulrich had a strong interest in North Korea for some reason, which led him to conduct spy activities.

Now, how did Ulrich and Mads Brugger make contact? This part is also unclear, but first, it is necessary to explain Mads Brugger’s movie “The Red Chapel.” For more details, please read the following article, but here I will try to focus briefly on the relationship between Mads Brugger and North Korea.

Mads Brugger and two comedians entered North Korea under the pretext of “friendship with North Korea” and carried out filming in North Korea, completing the movie “The Red Chapel,” which ridicules North Korea in a way that outsmarts the country. Although they were under surveillance and the footage they shot was checked, Mads Brugger came up with a brilliant strategy and succeeded in making the movie. However, North Korea, who believed that Mads Brugger’s entry was for “friendship,” was naturally furious, and since then, Mads Brugger has been unable to enter North Korea again.

Ulrich probably learned about Mads Brugger’s situation from watching “The Red Chapel.” He suddenly sent an email to Mads Brugger asking, “If you can’t enter North Korea, should I go instead?” This behavior is quite abnormal.

As for Mads Brugger’s reaction to receiving such an email, it can be said to be quite sensible. He gave a noncommittal response, saying, “I think I would be interested if something were to happen in North Korea that attracted international attention,” which is like saying “I’m not interested right now.” It’s only natural to think, “Oh, okay,” when an ordinary person says something like, “I’m going to North Korea, what do you think?”

Ulrich, however, did not mind Mads Brugger’s cold reply and took action on his own. And it was because Mads Brugger became interested after realizing that Ulrich was doing something outrageous that this extremely abnormal movie was completed.

How did a Former Cook Manage to Go so Deep into North Korea?

Now, to begin with, why was Ulrich, just an ordinary person, able to become a person who could gain the trust of North Korean officials? I would like to explain the background and details of this.

First, Ulrich infiltrated an organization called the “Danish North Korean Friendship Association.” While it may not be apparent in Japan, there are people around the world who “want to establish friendly relations with North Korea,” and this organization is a place where such people gather. Many “elderly people who love North Korea” belong to this association and are enthusiastic about North Korea. Ulrich joined this association and said, “Let’s promote the activities of the association more outside,” and started capturing the activities on video.

Members of the association also travel to North Korea for tourism. Of course, Ulrich, who accompanied them, met a bureaucrat named Kang from the Ministry of Culture who would later become deeply involved.

What’s impressive is that Ulrich is filming with his camera in North Korea as if it’s normal. Later, he was awarded a medal for contributing to North Korea, and he also filmed the award ceremony. Of course, with North Korea’s permission, it can be understood that Ulrich had won the trust of North Korea at a fairly early stage.

Afterwards, Ulrich meets a Spanish person through the activities of the association. That encounter became a very significant one that determined his future.

That person is Alejandro Cao de Benos, the top of KFA. KFA is a group that exists in 30 countries around the world and has many members. It is generally recognized as a “peaceful organization” that operates under the pretext of “spreading North Korean culture”. KFA is a worldwide organization and is incomparable in size to the “Danish North Korean Friendship Association” that Ulrich belongs to.

Ulrich was liked by Alejandro and was asked to create and become the representative of KFA’s Denmark branch, a proposal that Ulrich readily accepted. From that point on, it seems that Ulrich brought a professional photographer into KFA, and the photographers took over the role of shooting.

Ulrich diligently carried out KFA’s activities and rapidly rose through the ranks, gaining immense trust from Alejandro.

While dating Alejandro, Ulrich gradually began to understand his intentions. It seems that Alejandro is looking for someone to invest in North Korea, and he is hoping that Ulrich can introduce him to the perfect investor.

Then let’s prepare an “investor.” At this point, film director Mads Brugger was already deeply involved as Ulrich’s backup, and they decided to dress up a man named Jim, a former foreign legionnaire, as the “Nordic oil king” and introduce him to Alejandro. Through this process of exploring Alejandro’s intentions, they uncovered an unbelievable dark side of KFA’s top, which had been thought to be a peaceful organization.

Ulrich spent quite a lot of time knocking on North Korea’s door using proper channels. I think you can kind of understand how he built a trusting relationship with North Korea, but regardless, I was amazed at how capable Ulrich was. It’s understandable that he rose through the ranks of the small organization, the “Danish North Korean Friendship Association,” but to deepen his relationship with the larger KFA and use that as a foothold to enter North Korea shows just how capable he is. His proficiency is so impressive that one might question whether being a cook was the best profession for him.

”The Reason Why North Korea is Useful from the World” is Revealed

With Jim disguised as an oil magnate, they try to learn about the reality of “business” in North Korea, and eventually come to understand why North Korea is so highly valued by the world, and how they obtain the funds to maintain the nation despite economic sanctions.

The gist of it can be summarized in Alejandro’s words:

North Korea is the only country that doesn’t need to follow any rules.

They can do things that other countries can’t.

What does that mean? Let me give you an easy example. In the movie, it says, “We got a job from a pharmaceutical company in Canada.” Why would a pharmaceutical company want to make something in North Korea? According to Alejandro, the drug they were asked to make is almost equivalent to “stimulants.” Of course, such a thing cannot be manufactured in Canada. So they asked North Korea to do it. It is not only about the story of the pharmaceutical company, but it is hard to say whether Alejandro’s story is true or not. It might be a made-up story to attract investors’ interest. However, it is a convincing story that makes you think, “Oh, I see. Does North Korea have that kind of demand?”

In other words, it means that there is a reality where “countries and companies around the world entrust North Korea with ‘dangerous things that cannot be produced in their own country’.” Whether it is drugs or weapons, anything can be made in North Korea. Therefore, for those who seek to profit from manufacturing and selling “dangerous things”, North Korea is an indispensable presence. Although I felt that it was certainly true once it was pointed out, I was surprised by the fact that such a reality was presented as a real one in “THE MOLE”.

As the discussion on “business” progresses with Jim’s participation, there are more hidden camera footage. However, when Jim was invited to North Korea, he filmed openly, and scenes such as “streets of North Korea” and “children playing in the pool” that are not usually seen are shown. Of course, I think that they are also censored footage by North Korea, but they are still fresh because they are not things that can be easily seen.

I will not touch much on the “business” proposal they were offered, but its scale was outrageous. The plan began with the purchase of an island in Uganda for $5 million, which included the cost of evicting its inhabitants. When Ulrich, Jim, and the North Koreans visited the island to inspect it, they explained to the residents that they were there for the construction of a hospital and were welcomed by them. While the two understand that this “business” will not come to fruition, they still feel uneasy at the thought that if they were real investors, the island’s residents would be completely evicted.

In this way, this movie depicts the reality of trying to conduct an enormous “business” at the national level.

Ulrich Has a Wife and Children

This movie ends with Ulrich successfully completing his spy mission in North Korea and returning to his peaceful daily life. In the last scene, Ulrich tells Alejandro through the screen, “I’ve been lying to you all this time.” I don’t know what happened to Alejandro by Ulrich’s “betrayal,” or if Ulrich faced any retaliation from North Korea after the movie was released. However, considering he voluntarily continued an extremely dangerous undercover operation for 10 years, we can say he safely completed his mission safely.

The movie “Revolution of Our Times” I saw before also includes news of a real-life incident where an American college student was detained in North Korea just for removing a poster from a hotel. The student returned to the US in a comatose state and died 6 days later. While it’s unclear if North Korea was involved in his death, it’s hard to imagine they weren’t.

Just by removing a poster, this is what can happen. If Ulrich had been exposed as a spy, things wouldn’t have ended well. The movie shows an extremely crisis situation where it feels like “this is completely over.” It’s a tense situation where Ulrich’s spy activities could be exposed. Since a movie like this was actually released, it’s clear that Ulrich was safe at least by the end of filming, but it still kept me on the edge of my seat. If I, just an audience, was filled with fear, I wonder how Ulrich must have felt at that time.

Jim, who infiltrated North Korea together, was a former member of a foreign army unit and has a history of drug trafficking. As he himself testified, he did not feel the risks of infiltrating North Korea, saying, “I didn’t feel like it was risky.” It seems that he even prefers a crisis situation.

On the other hand, Ulrich, who is engaged in extremely dangerous spy activities, was originally just a cook with no basic knowledge. It was so dangerous without basic knowledge that Mads Brugger at one point prepared a short-term intensive program in which a former CIA man taught the ins and outs of espionage. The former CIA agent was reportedly fired from the CIA and there is no way for Ulrich’s spy activities to be known to the CIA. Information management in this regard was likely carried out quite thoroughly.

I really can’t believe someone could keep up this kind of life for 10 years.

The movie wasn’t as shocking as you might think due to its unbelievable footage, but I was surprised to hear that Ulrich had a wife and children. Apparently, he hadn’t told anyone that he was a spy for North Korea. It’s a mystery how he managed to create such a situation, but it seems that this man, Ulrich, was beyond abnormal in every way.

In any case, it was truly an “intense” movie.


At the end of the article, let’s talk about the structure of this movie.

In the movie, there is also a woman named Annie Machon. She is a former employee of MI5, a British intelligence agency, and has been working for a long time to listen to stories from those who have finished their spy activities. She says as follow.

Every person needs the opportunity to have someone else listen to the experiences they have had.

Since spies can’t even reveal the content of their missions to their families, it’s important to secure time to talk to someone when it’s all over.

The movie is structured in a way that Annie listens to stories from Ulrich, Jim, and Mads Brugger. It’s not just a movie that simply connects the footage shot by Ulrich. Thanks to her years of experience, her accurate questions are wonderful, and with Annie’s presence, the completion of the documentary is very high.

Wow, it’s really an amazing movie.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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