Dan Rather tried for over fifteen years to get an interview with North Korea leader Kim Jong Il. In October 2005, he and a 60 Minutes II team finally got visas for the country and were allowed, under tight supervision, to film. While Rather got pretty close, about fifteen feet from the reclusive leader, once during a military parade and again during a big sporting event, he was never allowed to interview the now deceased leader. Neither was the 60 Minutes team allowed to talk to people, visit factories or offices. Dan Rather sat down with general Ri Chan Bok, who was convinced that a war was imminent. The extensive notes he took during his stay illustrate how fascinating and overwhelming the trip had been, "a strange almost surreal experience," in a country devoted to Kim II Sung, the founder of the North Korean nation. Producer Tom Anderson echoed the feeling in his "Producer's Notebook." While he came back with great footage, such as the celebrations for the 60th birthday of the country with performances by thousands of soldiers, dancers, and children, he, like Rather, was eager to go back.
Still Image - Opening Shot of CBS's "The Hermit Kingdom," January 12, 2006.