Friday, April 24, 2009

They can go anywhere in the world... except home.

[Another update: There's an exhibit of photos of North Korea over six decades in Jongno until May 5. More information is here.]

[Update: I forgot to mention Roboseyo's other North Korea-related video find: a subtitled version of the 1986 North Korean film Pulgasari, which was directed by Shin Sang-ok, the South Korean director who was kidnapped to North Korea (along with his wife) by Kim Jung-il in order to make movies.]

The former residents of the vanished village in my last post can't go back to the buildings that once stood there, but they can at least return to a familiar landscape. The students in the video below would face prison or worse should they try to return to their homes in North Korea. The video shows a school for North Korean students (living in South Korea) taking a trip to the DMZ - the closest they'll ever get to their former homes. The juxtaposition of the bright-eyed teen and her story - leaving her family behind to escape to South Korea - is what makes this video work so well. It's less than ten minutes long, and is really worth watching. Many thanks to Roboseyo for posting this video at his site (and Hub of Sparkle).

If you have another ten minutes or more, allow me to suggest this 2003 NYT article titled "Flight of the Fluttering Swallows." The title is a translation of the name for homeless North Korean childen, "kotjebi"(꽃제비). When K-blogger Oranckay posted about it back in 2004 or 2005 I remember him writing that it was the best article he'd read about North Korean defectors living in the south - in this case, teenagers. Years later I saw the omnibus film 'If You Were Me 2', which had a short titled 'The Boy With The Knapsack,' about young North Korean refugees in Seoul, one of whom, a teenage boy, likes to ride his motocycle - at top speed - because that's the thing he can do better than any of the South Koreans. An incident mentioned in the NYT article provides the basis for this short film.

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