Sherlock screened in North Korea to help 'encourage change'

Episodes sent by Foreign Office to 'open up' country to outside world

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

He may not be able to solve the mystery of North Korea’s insular government, but Sherlock Holmes can help “encourage change” in the communist state – or so the British government thinks.

Episodes of the hit TV series Sherlock have been screened in a North Korean film festival to “open up” the country to the outside world, it has been revealed.

The Foreign Office (FCO) said it was “one of the things we have done to encourage North Korea to be more open to the outside world”.

It is not known which episode of the TV series was shown at the festival in the capital Pyongyang.

But in the first episode of the third series, Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, does identify a British minister and peer as a North Korean spy who attempts to blow up Parliament.

The document, which was first published in response to a Freedom of Information request, stated the FCO paid £287.33 for the rights to show the episode.


An FCO spokesperson said: “Most North Koreans have never seen anything other than domestic, Soviet or Chinese films.

"Participating in the film festival in 2012 was a small part of a cultural exchange programme we have with North Korea to show a different perspective of the outside world than they are normally shown."

Sherlock has achieved huge worldwide success, becoming the BBC’s most-watched drama series in over a decade.

It is also popular in China, where adoring fans have nicknamed Cumberbatch Curly Fu.

The BBC announced earlier this week that Sherlock would return for a fourth series in 2015.

Read more: Sherlock to return for new series in 2015