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Crossing – a moving insight into a closed land

On Friday 29 November Sutton for Peace and Justice screened the film Crossing, followed by a Q&A session  with Kim Joo-il, who defected from North Korea in 2005 and now lives in New Malden.

A dramatisation based on the real life stories of North Korean refugees, the watchable and moving film presented a bleak and harrowing insight into the brutality of North Korea. It followed Yong-soo as he crosses illegally into China in search of medicine, for his wife who is seriously ill with tuberculosis due to malnutrition, and ends up as a refugee in South Korea; and his son who, in desperation, crosses the desert in search of his father.

Kim Joo-il says that it is about the most realistic depiction of conditions in North Korea that he has seen.

kim a2

Through an interpreter, Mr Kim said that the regime uses brutality and propaganda to keep North Koreans living in fear, poverty and ignorance.  The regime has effectively brainwashed the population into believing that it is protecting them from evil enemies abroad and that conditions in the rest of the world are as bad or worse than those in North Korea.

Mr Kim explained that it is very difficult for people to learn the truth, as the media and communications are closely controlled by the regime and in rural areas many people cannot afford even a radio. Further, many of those who may have some idea of what the outside world is really like and the conditions in the rest of the country, do not speak out because they fear the regime or they do not want to lose their own relatively privileged position.

The lengths the regime goes to deter North Koreans finding out about the outside world were highlighted in a recent report that eighty people were executed by firing squad in North Korea for watching foreign films.

Kim Joo-il was born in 1973 in North Korea; in 2005, whilst serving in the North Korean Army, he defected and now lives in the UK; he is the Director of the North Korean Residents Society and runs a North Korean language news website from his base in New Malden. Read more here.



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