- Trans-Siberian. (Photo: VICE)
VICE magazine has published some daring, hilarious, and intriguing journalism this month as Shane Smith releases his seven-part video report into Russia's Siberian mystery ... and into the labor camps that North Korea operates there.
I recommend watching the videos for the subject matter and want to spotlight the second of the seven clips for its illumination of Russian train life. Smith journey for days across the Siberian emptiness to reach the camps. In the video, Smith explains he always used to see these railroads as "so far away and romantic and freaky." The Trans-Siberian Railway is a transportation passage virtually mythical in its stretch, and it's compelling to observe:
Smith and his associates drink, talk, encounter pushy drunk Russian teenagers (who ask Smith to trade his wedding ring), and deal with train police who have to intervene between Smith and young Russians. He talks of the hot train cars, the smells, and the alcohol everywhere throughout the dining car. It's a strange dispatch worth watching for any transit fan.
"Being wasted is so prevalent that they have special booze police," Smith says in a voiceover, "whose only job is to throw drunks off at the nearest station if they get too drunk ... or murder-y."
Watch the entire North Korean labor camp video series starting here.