Tag Archives: China


The Defector: Escape from North Korea is now available on iTunes in the US and other territories now. This suspenseful documentary follows a human smuggler leading defectors escaping from North Korea  It just won Best Documentary and Best Documentary Director at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards (Canada’s Academy awards). And is available for viewing here:
The film is also available for theatrical and educational screenings, Tugg will organize it with you. For those of you who are looking to organize a screening, but have no budget, there is an option for you too! Gather enough ticket pre-sales and the film will come to your local cinema – check out the Tugg website for the hosting details:

JOL Interview With Ann Shin: North Korea is More Dangerous to Flee Than Ever

A new interview with The Defector director, Ann Shin, in JOL Press discusses the ways in which the the changing North Korean political environment is making it more difficult for defectors to escape the country.
Since coming to power, Kim Jong-Un has strengthened control measures and security posts on the border between North Korea and China, to put an end to attempts to escape North Korean citizens . It also increased the penalties against border guards may receive bribes defectors.”
Read the full article here


The Defector will be having its first broadcast this June in Canada and Australia, marking the 63rd anniversary of the Korean war.


In Australia you can catch THE DEFECTOR: ESCAPE FROM NORTH KOREA, presented by Kerry O’Brien, on Monday June 17th at 8.30pm on ABC1. It is repeated on Tuesday June 18th at 11.35pm and can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday June 22nd at 8.00pm or ABC iview .

In Canada, THE DEFECTOR will air on TVO Wednesday, June 26th at 9:00pm and midnight EST. It will be repeated on Thursday, June 27th at 9:00pm EST, Friday, June 28th at 10:30pm EST, and Sunday June 30th at 10:00pm EST.

We hope you will be able to tune in!

The Defector Op Doc on the Front Page of The New York Times

The Defector is on the Front Page of the NYTimes today! An exclusive OpDocs piece was prepared for the NYTimes and it spent the morning claiming the front-and-center space on the front page.
Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 10.43.05 AM
The feature comes at a time when raising awareness about defectors is crucial. Nine young North Korean defectors were captured in Laos last week and repatriated back to North Korea through China. They range in age from 14 to 22, and are said to be orphaned Kotjebi. They are among tens of thousands of defectors living in hiding in Asia who try to escape via China and Laos. Considering the grave risks that they took to escape North Korea, it’s troubling that China and Laos, among other nations, do not offer them protection.
The Defector will be having its UK premiere at the upcoming Sheffield Doc/Fest and is nominated for the Sheffield Innovation Award.

Do You Have What It Takes to #EscapeNorthKorea?

Over the border into China, crossing 3,000 miles and through the jungle to Thailand -The Defector Interactive takes you undercover as you choose your path to freedom. Check out this exclusive first glimpse of the animated journey.

The Defector Interactive launches February 15, 2013.

Will you have what it takes?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p8daXNTcWM]

World Relations or Preteen Politics?


Party Rockets in North Korea

Schoolyard bully, North Korea, is picking fights with the popular South Korea, threatening “strong physical counter-measures” if SK backs U.S. sanctions made by the UN – aka the ‘No NKs Allowed’ Club. Not a new fight, but this time NK’s only friend China is fed up. China, the only country that will share their lunch with North Korea, said that they will reduce assistance if they continue to engage in nuclear tests. That said, China is not just going to start playing on the other side of the playground. If South Korea and her besties, U.S. and Japan, try to promote the harsh UN sanctions, China will step in and force them to behave better and make amendments.


The United Nations, aka ‘No North Koreas Allowed’ Club

China is already a little mad with North Korea for the missile launches, and says it’ll walk if there’s a third launch. China is making sure North Korea knows what is at stake, “I’m already your only friend. Don’t push me away too, You’re better than this.”

Perhaps North Korea is mad because China has begun spending more time with the U.S, and is even laying down some groundwork for the three of them to hang out.


Crackdown at Borders: It is Harder than Ever to Escape North Korea


Rev. Kim Seung-eun at the Caleb Mission Church in Cheonan, South Korea.

The border between China and North Korea has tightened on both ends, and the number of North Koreans able to flee the country has dropped 44%. According to Rev. Kim Seung-eun of the Caleb mission Church in Cheonan, South Korea, the cost of bribing soldiers at the border in order to smuggle a defector out of North Korea has increased significantly due to the higher risks. And with no punishment for accepting bribes, there is still a chance the the border official will turn defectors in after taking their money.

Kim Jong-un

There are more checkpoints on the roads leading to China, as well as more barriers and frequent patrol rotations. North Korea has jammed Chinese cellphone signals, and has even begun tracing cell phone calls.

Yet even with the crackdown, Rev. Kim has also noticed a shift in both defector and border patrol attitudes that is more partial to South Korean style and media. Patrols will demand goods, and defectors will escape less in search of survival and more for opportunity. If reflexive of a larger ideology within North Korea we may begin to see more sides of the isolated country, and defectors, including those in The Defector, will be able to reunite with their families.

Read the full interview with Rev. Kim Seung-eun here.


Path to Freedom? New book explores the Underground Railroad out of North Korea


Escape From North Korea is the compelling new book about the perilous journey of a North Korean defector, written by Melanie Kirkpatrick, former deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal. The Defector: Escape from North Korea and Kirkpatrick’s book feature many of the same people who risk their lives helping North Koreans to freedom. 

The book is receiving critical acclaim, referred to by the Bush Center blog as “a chilling glimpse into North Korea’s veiled society.” It is being praised for its criticism towards the policies of China, South Korea, and the United States for failing to address the suffering of the North Korean people in and outside of the country. She attacks China for denying all North Koreans refugee status, including Chinese-North Korean mixed race children. Instead their efforts go to repatriating North Koreans, where they face detention camps and possible execution, and arresting Chinese citizens who aid in their escape. It is a powerful read that is more important than ever as Kim Jong-Un cracks down on defectors, and a long overdue call to action directed at major world powers.

The Defector tackles the very same subject, and gives an insider view of what it’s like to escape from North Korea only to go into hiding in China. The Defector will premiere at IDFA this November.

For further reading and inspiration on Kirkpatrick’s book, check out The Atlantic review, the Bush Center blog and Escape from North Korea‘s Facebook page. Or purchase a copy of the book here.


Activists fear poison needles struck by #NorthKorean agents


Park Sung-Hak releasing balloons accross the China-North Korea boarder in April. Photo by Jung Yeon-je, AFP/Getty Images

Activists on the China-North Korean border risk arrest, jail and now assasination by poison needles. A 46-year old pastor, going by the name Patrick Kim, collapsed on August 21st in Dandong, a town in China overlooking North Korea. South Korean diplomats believed he was murdered by North Korean agents in retaliation to humanitarian efforts helping people escape North Korea. But one day later a South Korean missionary in China felt a pinprick, and heard a man apologize to him, before collapsing at an intersection. He luckily survived the attack. One month later South Korean intelligence announced that they arrested a North Korean defector, charging him with plotting a poison needle attack in Seoul on Park Sung-hak. Park is a human rights activist who recently launched balloons carrying anti-regime propaganda into North Korea.  Only a basic autopsy on Patrick Kim’s body was conducted, as South Korea is cautious about blaming North Korea for the acts. Although activists have no doubt that Kim was murdered, South Korea is not prepared to take the action required with accusing the North.

For more information and interviews, read Barbara Demick’s article in the Los Angeles Times.

China to repatriate 20 North Korean defectors, denying Seoul’s request to release them into South Korean custody


China will repatriate 20 North Korean defectors arrested this September in Shenyang, China. Once returned to North Korea, the escapees face imprisonment in a prison camp, torture and/or execution. It is South Korea’s constitutional duty to protect all defectors to the best of their ability, and they have asked Beijing repeatedly to reconsider releasing the group. Chinese diplomats are concerned about a spiraling effect if they comply with Seoul’s request. China risks diplomatic relations with its North Korean ally if they release the group to South Korea, claiming ”it would undermine its attempts to prevent a flood of defectors.”

Full article at The Washington Post