Tag Archives: South Korea

The Defector has WON the 2014 Diversity Award!

The Defector is the proud winner of the 2014 Diversity Award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. The Defector is not an easy story to tell, and required a diverse and resourceful team to pull it off. We are very happy to be recognized for our unique team’s talents as a prime example of the Canadian film and television industry.
Along with winning the Diversity Award, The Defector is nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards - Best Documentary Program and Best Direction in a Documentary Program. The Canadian Screen Awards takes place in March, we hope you keep your fingers crossed!

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 Interactive Wins Digi Award!

Last night in Toronto, Next Media Events hosted their annual Digi Awards to celebrate the companies, products and people making waves in the digital media industry. We are proud to announce that The Defector Interactive won the award for Best in Cross Platform Non-Fiction!
If you have haven’t yet had the chance to use the Interactive, you can still check it out - experience.thedefectormovie.com
Thank you to everyone that took the time to vote in the online poll, we might never have gotten the nomination without your help!

And congratulations to all the other Digi Award winners!


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.

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.


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. 


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.


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.

Myanmar vows to cease the purchase of weapons from North Korea


President Thein Sein of Myanmar has assured South Korea that they will no longer buy conventional arms from North Korea. President Sein acknowledged that his country has bought weapons from North Korea in the last twenty years or so. US officials have been concerned about the possibility of an illicit weapons trade between Myanmar and North Korea.

“I urged President Thein Sein not to do any trade with North Korea that violates international regulations,” said South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at a press conference in Yangon.

Lee was the first South Korean president to visit Myanmar since a bombing attributed to North Korean agents killed 17 South Koreans in Yangon in 1983.

Click here to read the rest of the article.