Tag Archives: Escape from North Korea

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.
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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.

Former North Korean spy calls the country a cult

A former North Korean spy is speaking out about the regime, and the control Kim Jong-un is trying to hold over their military. Kim Hyun-hee was plucked from her schoolyard in North Korea, and taken to a private military school where she was trained to be a spy. In 1987 she played a key role in the bombing of an aircraft en route to Seoul, killing all 115 passengers.

Originally sentenced to death, the South Korean government pardoned her because she was brainwashed. 


Kim Hyun-hee, center, with South Korean investigators Dec. 15, 1987. SUNKYU IM/AFP/Getty Images

In her public statement to Australia’s ABC television, she claims that the North Korea is “not a state, it’s a cult.” It was not until she was in South Korea, where she currently lives, that she realized she had been lied to. 

It is a common story from defectors, who must face the realization that life is not what they were told in North Korea. Everything they have learned growing up, what their parents and teachers taught them, must all be broken down. To experience what it takes to escape North Korea, visit The Defector Interactive at experience.thedefectormovie.com.

Read Kim Hyun-hee’s full story in the National Post.


Film Review: The Defector in NKNews.org

“A unique documentary with thoughtful production and a striking visual identity, The Defector is a must-see for anyone interested in North Korean refugees, human rights or, simply in the difficulties of real human lives.”

Read the full review by Nicolle Loughlin here

North Korea Video – Two Tickets to the Gun Show

The latest North Korean propaganda video to be uploaded on their official Uriminzokkiri YouTube Channel shows off some particularly anti-US sentiments. The video titled “A Short, Three Day War” has since been taken off YouTube, but those left on the site can help paint a pretty good picture.


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VQ7NjGeIRw?list=UUknqqNd3-joIjWzf1Jn4oVQ]

Along with the video, the DPRK has also realeased an image of a troop-landing drill filled with photoshopped images of hover-crafts.



Although clearly fake, the chest-puffing image was released as the North put its rocket units on combat status along with a threat to target US bases. The United States has responded by flying a B-2 stealth bomber “deterrence” mission over South Korea. A US military statement said the mission “Demonstrated the United States’ ability to conduct long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will.”



Unimpressed, North Korea views the drill as a “hideous politically-motivated terrorism of the US and the South Korean puppet forces targeting the dignified social system in the DPRK.” 

As the political plot thickens, coverage of North Korean citizens remains an untouched topic. Escape from the country is harder than ever, and the famine persists. 


Announcing The Defector’s Canadian Premiere at HotDocs!


We are very excited to announce that The Defector will officially be having its Canadian Premiere at Canada’s International Documentary Film Festival – Hot Docs – this April!

We invite you to attend one of our three screenings:

Sat, Apr 27 - 9:00 PM at Scotiabank Theatre, Cinema 4

Mon, Apr 29 - 3:30 PM at Scotiabank Theatre, Cinema 5

Sat, May 4 - 6:30 PM at The Regent

For all of our Toronto supporters who missed the world premieres, this is your chance to see the film on the big screen! We could not be more excited to have our Canadian premiere in our home city.

Tell your friends!

For tickets and more information about screenings and the amazing line-up of films at this year’s festival, visit hotdocs.ca



The Defector Interactive **OFFICIAL LAUNCH** #EscapeNorthKorea

The Toronto-based multiplatform team Fathom Film Group, in collaboration with digital production and design agency Jam3, are pleased to announce the launch of THE DEFECTOR: ESCAPE FROM NORTH KOREA INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE


This online web doc takes users inside the gripping reality of living in North Korea today, and allows you to experience first-hand the brave attempts of those trying to escape.

The online experience is being launched as a complement for the upcoming film THE DEFECTOR: ESCAPE FROM NORTH KOREA, and is based on the true stories of six North Korean defectors.

Find out if you have what it takes to #EscapeNorthKorea and experience the Interactive today!



Kim Jong Un: Time Magazine’s Person of the Year?


Kim Jong Un on the cover of Time Magazine

It has been a big year for Kim Jong Un. Not only has he been adjusting to the growing pains that go along with being North Korea’s new leader, but the young dictator has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, has had Chinese newspapers believing he is The Sexiest Man Alive, and has gained and possibly lost a bride. Such a happening guy, he may even become Time Magazine’s Person of the Year tomorrow.

The award is granted to the person who has most influenced news and media in 2012, good or bad. In a reader’s poll on Time.com, Kim Jong Un is currently listed as Number One with a whopping 5.6 million votes. This does not clinch a win for KJU, the decision is ultimately up to Time editors, but it does give him a shining advantage. Past winners include Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, American Women and Barack Obama.

The Person of the Year will be revealed tomorrow, December 19, 2012 – so get your votes in!

A Bullet is More Precious Than Candy- Just Ask a North Korean

Ever wanted to ask a North Korean a question, but were never sure how to go about it? A favorite blog of ours, NKNews.org, provides the perfect oulet! The weekly column, Ask A North Korean, gives a chance for people like Chad to ask “What do most North Koreans think of the country’s satellite and rocket programs?” 


Every reponse comes from Jae-young, North Korean woman who now lives in South Korea. She is open about her past, and more than happy to answer questions, like Chad’s:

“When it came to cost, we didn’t mind so much. In North Korea we understand the country to be poor because of sanctions from the U.S. and South Korea. In this regard it makes sense that the military should get the most resources, as they are the ones protecting the nation. We actually have a saying that “a bullet is more precious than a candy”.

So when I would see news about the rocket and missile launches, I always thought, “our technicians have done a great job and no powerful country can do anything to us because we have the newest and greatest weapons”. Yes, I believed the rocket and satellite made my country more powerful.”

So, have a burning question? Just Ask a North Korean at NKNews!

Kim Jong-Un: The Sexiest Man Alive

The sexy Kim Jong-Un has lit the internet up! Earlier this week the satrical newspaper The Onion reported they named Kim Jong-Un the Sexiest Man Alive

With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.” -The Onion, November 14, 2012

Chinese newspaper The People’s Daily failed to pick up on the joke. They ran a 55 page spread of the North Korean dictator in some of his hottest poses, including some great horseback shots.


Kim Jong-Un rides a horse, undated picture from Korea Central News Agency (KCNA)

Unfortunately for those who really do think his boyish charm makes him the sexiest man alive, the Chinese paper has since taken the spread down.

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.