Tag Archives: Defectors

The Defector Interactive is Here!

It is SUPER exciting to share THE DEFECTOR INTERACTIVE with you! We want all friends and supports to have the chance to experience the web-doc before the official launch next week.

We promise you have never seen anything like this before! Take the haunting interactive journey through the eyes of a woman desperately attempting to escape North Korea. 

Experience the Interactive and see if you have what it takes to #EscapeNorthKorea!

And tell your friends about it – post it, share it, tweet it! The support we have received from everyone has made this project a reality, and we can never thank you enough.


A Glimpse Into The Unseen North Korea #EscapeNorthKorea

There are two faces of North Korea. The one they show the world, and the one people live in.

On February 15th see what North Korea is really like - The Defector Interactive.


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM26PWCVnes?wmode=transparent]

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.


Famous North Korean Propaganda Artist Turned Satirist


Artwork by Song Byeok

Song Byeok’s artistic skills were made famous at the age of 24 when he became the official propaganda artist for North Korea, portraying glorified images of rulers Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. His loyalty shifted in the 1990s when he saw his family starve to death due to the famine. Song had attempted to defect to China. His father drowned in the Tumen river during an escape attempt, and Song ended up in a prison camp.

Song successfully defected to South Korea in 2002, where he began painting satirical imaes of oppressive regimes from around the world. Watch Song’s interview with the BBC here.


‘Take Off Your Clothes’ by Song Byeok

His first North American exhibit was in Atlanta, GA earlier this year and like all cool things these days, it was made possible by a Kickstarter campaign. Song’s latese work is currently on display at the Woolley Mammoth Threatre in Washington, DC.

For more information about Song, exhibits, and purchasing a print, check out the website www.songbyeok.com.

Director Ann Shin on TVO’s DocStudio: Why I Needed to Make This Film

In the midst of funding cutbacks for TVOntario they continue to champion great documentaries while creating an online community to showcase documentary works. Ann Shin was invited to discuss the importance of making The Defector: Escape From North Korea.


“As a Korean-Canadian, I was in a unique position to get intimate access into North Korean stories and to tell it tio a Western audience. I started meeting with North Korean defectors in Toronto, and learned about a vast global network of people who were helping them. I met with church groups and humanitartian aid organizations. I began to envision a film about North Korean defectors and the global network of people who were putting themselves at risk to help them… continue” -Ann Shin on TVO DocStudio

For the full story and other amazing docs, visit TVO’s DocStudio.

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.


Raining marshmallows in North Korea


The same organization that plans balloon launches containing bibles and religious materials, news from the outside world and practical items has organized a special treat for Christmas. The Colorado Springs based organization will send balloons full of marshmallows Peeps over the South Korean boarder into the North. Reindeer and Christmas trees will also be found in the packages. Why marshmallows? As Rev. Eric Foley, co-founder and CEO of Seoul USA states, “Who wants to get hit on the head by a falling candy cane?”

Read the full story here

North Korea now allows cellphones


Photo by Reuters/Jacky Chen

One million cellphone users will be registered on North Korea’s new 3G network built with Orascom, an Egyptian company. Using a mobile device was once considered illegal in North Korea as cellphones and the internet have been strong forces in rallying protests and overthrowing rulers such as Muammar Gaddafi. With a change of heart, the North Korean government does not see the tools as a threat. This is likely due to the fact that only the rich can afford to own them. It costs roughly $350 for a cellphone and average monthly income is about $15.

Read more at Reuters.com

The Defector on TVO’s Doc Studio


Our friends at TVO have given THE DEFECTOR a page on their Doc Studio website! We are so excited to get the stamp of approval and stand with so many great projects. If you haven’t seen our trailer yet, it’s on there too!

Check out our new Facebook App where people share their harrowing stories of escape from all types of oppression. Whats your story?


More than 300,000 North Koreans have escaped their country and are in hiding. Some have been brave enough to share their story with you on this interactive Facebook APP that ties stories and pictures in with Google Earth locations.  

Tell us your storyWhether you’ve been forced to flee your country or have travelled through countries with political, religious or ethnic oppression, we want to hear about it.   


The first 50 people to upload their stories, videos or photos receive a free craft, hand made by North Korean defectors. Be sure to login to your Facebook account before you upload so we can send you your craft.