Crossing Heaven’s Border reveals the plight of three North Korean defectors. With access to the Underground smuggling network, the reporters follow a group of defectors on a grueling 10-day journey through China and Southeast Asia in the hope of settling as free citizens in South Korea.
Most defectors flee from North Korea’s poor border regions into northeast China, where they live in hiding, work illegally and have no access to education or medical care. More than three quarters of the defectors are women, many of whom work in the sex industry. If caught by Chinese authorities, they are repatriated to North Korea, where they face severe punishment: persecution, torture, even execution in prison camps.
Aaron Brown further explores the plight of refugees from North Korea in a post-film interview with Debra Liang-Fenton, a human rights expert with the United States Institute of Peace, and the former Executive Director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.