Thursday, June 19, 2008

North Korean desperation and defection on film

Often cast as villains in Hollywood and wayward kin in South Korean movies, North Koreans have now taken on the atypical, and arguably more realistic, role of desperate souls caught in an oppressive regime in the movie “The Crossing” and the TV documentary "On the Border."

"Most South Koreans are not oblivious, but indifferent, to what's happening right across the border," says Kay Seok, a researcher with the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch.

"For the last 10 years… the words 'North Korean defector' and 'refugee' were not really welcome or familiar to people in Korea," said Lee Hak-joon, producer of "On the Border."

Left-leaning South Korean presidents over the past 10 years had largely avoided any criticism of North Korea's human rights record fearing they may antagonizing their prickly neighbor and endanger a so-called "Sunshine Policy" of engagement. But a new conservative leader who became president earlier this year has called on his communist neighbor to clean up its act, which may make it easier for the feature film and documentary on defectors to find receptive audiences.

"(They are) being released in a more conducive environment, because for previous governments, defectors have been an irritant to North-South relations," Peter Beck of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, told Reuters by phone.

[From Reuters article by Ben Weller]

No comments: