Hi, I'm VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy. I've been hosting documentaries for VICE since the beginning, for our own site VICE.com, our YouTube channel, our HBO show, and more. While sniffing out weird stories around the world, I've been shot (on purpose), witnessed a man make love to a donkey, and went to North Korea. Most recently, I investigated Tokyo's cuddle cafes and prostitution rings for this documentary [NSFW].

I was thinking you guys might be interested in asking me some questions -- about North Korea, the Japanese love industry, anything at all. I'm free to talk today from 1:30 PM 2:30 PM

Thanks for all the questions everyone; this was actually a ton of fun. I'm stepping out to get back to work, but I'll check in later in the day and try to field a few more questions, and we'll do this again soon. Thanks again.

Update: If you think North Korea and the Japanese love industry are wild, did you know Toronto's Mayor, Rob Ford, hired hackers to try and destroy a tape of him smoking crack?

Comments: 2647 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

SAMLIVM1516 karma

What did Kim Jong-un's hands feel like? Rough? Soft? The world needs to know.

Ryan_Duffy2325 karma

Soft and supple. Don't think he's doing a lot of heavy lifting.

doppeldanger1273 karma

When watching the North Korea episode, a strange thing that stood out to me was how absolutely calm, cool and collected the Harlem Globetrotters seemed the entire time. Were they seriously that laid back or did they just play it off well?

Ryan_Duffy1723 karma

Some of the coolest, most relaxed guys I've ever met; captains of Team Good Vibes.

callipygia953 karma

Do you believe that you'll eventually die doing something for VICE, or any other journalistic activity?

Ryan_Duffy2164 karma

I'd never really thought about it, but now I have. Thanks!

workroom767 karma

I'm interested to hear a bit about your path to this job? How did you get into VICE or did VICE find you? did you always want to be some sort of reporter or was it more like 'I want to experience some crazy shit and need to find a way to afford it"?


Ryan_Duffy1125 karma

I had an advisor at college who suggested I intern somewhere. I said if I was going to work for free, it would only be at my favorite magazine, VICE. That was in 2002/2003. I've been here ever since. Lots has changed for VICE over that decade, but the constant has been that I get to work with my best friends to make awesome shit we believe in.

onesafesource714 karma

Hey Ryan, Love Vice. What was the worst place you have been to? Do you also have to get different shot/vaccines before going to these countries

Ryan_Duffy1510 karma

North Korea, hands down. There are places I've been with more clear & present danger, but I'll take a gang of dudes with guns over the feeling I'm being watched 24 hours a day.

thrillmatic663 karma

Hi Ryan, huge fan of the show. I'm a reporter as well (in a much more boring capacity, unfortunately) and I'm quite jealous of what you guys get to do.

Is there anything too extreme in terms of coverage? In your editorial meetings, have you had to turn down something that's too intense? Cheers.

Ryan_Duffy1365 karma

We don't pass on stories because they're too intense; but we do if that's the only reason to go. Shock value is fleeting; real stories that are underreported are what get us excited.

andrewdreams608 karma

"What the fuck is an enchilada?!"

Ryan_Duffy689 karma

Holy shit.

crustyruffles532 karma

Was the ear cleaning worth the Yen?

Ryan_Duffy979 karma

It was long overdue. That poor girl.

LexLuvsit529 karma

Were the Yakuza guys really seedy scary criminals or were they totally gentlemen and fun to be around?

Ryan_Duffy858 karma

Little bit of both. They're obviously a tough crew, but in the brief time we spent with them, they were also courteous and great hosts. And I've got that tattoo on my leg to remember them by.

welaughatdanger519 karma


Ryan_Duffy1327 karma

Give me the Macklemore, but less weird.

nudosphere469 karma

What really happened in the post-game after party? Did any N Korean officials say anything other than their talking points of Dear Leader/Marshall?

Ryan_Duffy1084 karma

Sounds like a cop out, but I really can't even explain how bizarre it was. Massive banquet hall, KJU at center table with myself and the players, all-white-clad violin-playing all-girl band...It was hard to hear what anyone was saying because the "holyshitholyshitholyshit" loop playing in my head was too loud.

Youareabadperson5241 karma

Have you been detained or debriefed or contacted by the NSA, FBI, CIA or any one, since you had dinner with an enemy of the state?

Ryan_Duffy474 karma

Oddly enough, no. We fully expected to be questioned as soon as we landed at JFK, but I've never been contacted in any capacity, nor has anyone in the crew.

andrewhaffner417 karma

how scared were you of sergei? and what were those plants he was spanking you with?

Ryan_Duffy750 karma

A teddy bear of a guy; it's tough to be scared when you're both half nude in a 120 degree sauna at 4am. I'd love to go back.

mistrsteve408 karma

Your Portrait of a Russian Oligarch may have been one of my favorite stories, but it was so fucking short! What else did you guys do? What was the dynamic like between him and his wife Sofya?

Ryan_Duffy501 karma

We actually spent time with a number of oligarchs while we were in Moscow; Sergei just turned out to be the most compelling once we get into the edit.

Russia has changed so much in the last few decades; the opulence that characterized the first wave of Oligarchs is by and large a thing of the past as the move to more "legit" business and less decadence continues, but Sergei and a few others didn't get the memo.

zhamdee390 karma

What was it like visiting the ghost cities in China?

Ryan_Duffy773 karma

Surreal. Massive, sprawling towns with the population of a small apartment complex here in NYC. And the weirdest part is no one is willing/able to admit the problem; construction continues on new cities as the existing ones sit empty.

metalsgt90321 karma

Best experience you've ever had? Seems like a lot of negative things you've seen but what about something positive?

Ryan_Duffy594 karma

Covering Arab Spring in Cairo is something I'll never forget. To be a part of something that is changing the shape of world history, harnessing new technology / youthful energy into a movement to better lives...it was inspiring to say the least.

Phaymous272 karma

How did Thomas Morton actually win that Senegalese wrestling match?

Ryan_Duffy425 karma

Low center of gravity. Never underestimate Baby Balls.

Salacious-254 karma

What is the most boring topic you have ever reported on? Like, you got the assignment and rolled your eyes and just tried to get it over with as soon as possible?

Ryan_Duffy276 karma

I don't want this to sound like a bullshit answer, because I mean it sincerely, but I've never been completely bored by a shoot. Are there moments when you're on your 8th hour of a long, cramped van ride, or killing time while waiting for an interview, etc? Sure. But at the end of the day, I get to meet folks all over the world and tell some pretty interesting stories. Coming from a guy whose previous work experience was scooping ice cream, waiting tables, and coaching basketball camps, you're not getting any complaints outta me.

K1ngunit253 karma

Hey dude. What's your favorite vice story? Not just one you covered.

Ryan_Duffy611 karma

I've got a ton - most are not mine - but Mexican Mormon Wars always sticks out. A crazy combination of domestic politics, cartel wars, and great characters. Check it out: http://www.vice.com/vice-news/the-mexican-mormon-war-full-length

pppparf225 karma

i really enjoyed the japan sex story, was there any other places that you went to that didn't make the cut? one more question, where does vice go from here? can we expect more long form documentaries over time? i hope you all keep up the good work.

Ryan_Duffy502 karma

We went to a slew of the host/hostess bars, but only showed a few. You can also buy a date by the hour, which I did with a girl dressed up in an anime costume for a stroll around the mall.

Expect a TON more long form documentaries on VICE.com as well as our YouTube channel, the launch of our brand new News channel, and S2 of the HBO show...to start.

skenn024190 karma

What is Kim Jong Un like in person? I saw the documentary and you had the opportunity to meet him. I feel like he's really awkward.

Ryan_Duffy410 karma

Young. More so than anything else, he seems really, really young. Reports peg him anywhere from 29-31, but I was more struck by how he carried himself; people deferred to him, of course, but he didn't have the air of authority you attribute to most world leaders.

why_not_ted151 karma

Have you ever wanted to intervene and try to help out the people you meet in your stories?

Ryan_Duffy291 karma

It's a natural human desire for sure. And in certain cases - like with the band featured in Heavy Metal in Baghdad - we have been able to stay in touch after the shoot and play a larger role in their lives.

MarcRanucc145 karma

Hey Ryan, first of all, I love the Vice show and when I first watched it with my dad (The North Korea episode) we thought it was satire because it was such a crazy string of events. I have two questions. First, where do you/ the vice researchers find the topics or get the ideas for the stories that you cover? Second, was there anything in the piece about Devil’s Breath because it was too disturbing or heavy for a large audience? Anyway thanks I’m a huge fan. Keep being awesomely tattooed.

Ryan_Duffy248 karma

VICE has 30+ offices all over the world - so the story pitches come in from some of the smartest, most connected folks globally.

The Devil's Breath piece has always stuck with me even 5 years later. I'll never forget sitting on the prostitute's bed - still covered in stuffed animals and all the trappings of childhood. Not sure how it read on camera, but pretty sobering in person.

jalapenocock135 karma

Where did you get shot? And how did it feel?

Ryan_Duffy269 karma

Right in my gut - about in inch below the rib cage so as to not snap a bone. Felt like a very hard punch from a very small fist.

Pinwurm119 karma

This is a broad question:

To me, VICE feels like one of the last bastions of real investigative journalism. When I watch the videos or read the articles, they are presented in a way a young person may actually perceive and experience the topic at hand.

Ryan, how do you feel about the current state of journalism? What can/should other organizations do? Are you optimistic?

Ryan_Duffy231 karma

There are a lot of reasons to get negative - turn on your TV this evening and take your pick - but yes, I'm wildly optimistic. There's a misperceptions that young people don't "care" about the news; that's wrong. There's just no one delivering it to them in a voice they can relate to.

I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by people at VICE who understand this, and are working to change it every day.

Bryson91105 karma

What advice would you give to an aspiring political journalist?

Ryan_Duffy294 karma

Reporting is the easy part. Get really good at listening.

bbrennann93 karma

Hi Ryan, I'm a huge fan of your work on Vice, I'm a videographer and it's actually a dream of mine to someday work for Vice doing something behind the camera.

My question is this: How did you get started at Vice? Were you a correspondent right off the bat or did you have to start doing other things like writing articles? How did you get to where you are at Vice?

Thank you

Ryan_Duffy210 karma

I started at VICE as an intern while I was still in college back in 2003. I basically kept showing up until they took pity on me and gave me a paycheck - that was 10 years ago and I've held on tight ever since.

mkmkmk102890 karma

Hey Ryan, huge fan! I'm always shocked by the places that you guys manage to bring a camera. How do you a) get in contact with some of these people (im thinking specifically about some of the people associated with criminal activity) and b) convince them to talk to you on camera?

Ryan_Duffy181 karma

Most folks - especially those who feel that they are misunderstood - jump at the chance to be able to tell their side of the story. The camera is a remarkably compelling tool.

Vittorious83 karma

What is the most intense experience you have ever had while working with Vice?

Ryan_Duffy241 karma

I've been detained a few times, but the worst was getting arrested in Egypt. I'd just had some rather questionable food, and my stomach was getting a little squirrely while we were interrogated. They finally let me out to use the bathroom, which was a pitch black room with water up to my shins and a small hole in the ground. It didn't go well.

aldousdakota70 karma

ryan, seen all your segments. great, great work. i'm always left wondering... where do you find the cojones to enter these difficult and challenging situations? i.e. sitting down with yakuza and not blinking an eye...

Ryan_Duffy189 karma

Half pure, unadulterated stupidity, and half complete and total faith in my crew.

ohwhyhello62 karma

How uncomfortable were you during the cuddle cafe/BDSM segments?

What has been the coolest thing you've been able to do, whether associated with Vice, or not?

Did you attend college? Where and what for?

What would you change about your life?

What is the scariest topic you've filmed for?

Ryan_Duffy140 karma

Lots of questions in one; I'll pick the most salient. What I'd change: I'd really, really, really like to be able to dunk a basketball.

jhodge60 karma

What was it like meeting Kim Jong-un?

Ryan_Duffy183 karma

We honestly didn't know until we turned a corner in this banquet hall that he'd be there; there was no time to prep, or plan a question, or even consider the gravity. We walked into a dining hall and he was standing there with his hand extended.

imhererteryeuyeu30 karma

What's the greatest act of humanity you've seen thus far? Also, what's the weirdest thing you've eaten while abroad. I'm a huge fan, thanks for all you do! Your shows make me feel like I traveled with you to the destination.

Ryan_Duffy91 karma

I raced reindeer in Norway, which is a really heart-warming, family friendly activity until the end, when they kill and cook the last-place deer and serve him to all the racers. Very gamey.