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Crossing the Line : Across Land, Across Sea

Stories from a still divided country

Year: 2011, 52 mins - PAL
Code: IC-Crossing1
ISBN: 978-1-922007-60-5

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Crossing the Line - a rare portfolio of investigative documentaries, where engaged filmmakers look at what a certain number of North Korean defectors have experienced to escape their country. At the risk of their lives and those left behind.

Korea, orphan of the Cold War, remains even in 2011 a divided country. In 1953, at the end of the Korean War, the country was cut in two opposing parts with a No Man’s Land in the middle, the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). The North, still supported by Beijing, is rumored to suffer from continuous famine and is run as a communist regime with Stalinist overtones. The South, heavily supported by Washington, is ruled as a Western-style democracy where shopping malls have appeared on every corner. This economic wealth may not necessarily make South Koreans happier than their Northern brothers and sisters, yet a growing number of North Koreans risk their lives to get out of what many call the `Hell of the North’.

The first one in the series is Across Land, Across Sea

Songgook and Sueryun are a newly wed North Korean couple now living in the south. As is the case for an estimated 20 000 defectors who have built or are trying to build a new life in South Korea, they are attempting to secure their entire family's freedom by arranging their defection along with them to the South. This phenomenon has been coined "chain of escapes".

The Songgook couple's family members have contacted them to seek assistance to escape the North. Songgook puts his life at risk, making a dangerous trek to the Tumen River, a border zone between China and North Korea. He makes plans to lead a daring escape: to smuggle his family into the South by boat.

Because of the extreme danger associated with this journey, this kind of attempt is very rare. And this is the first ever to be filmed.

Versions: English, French, Korean and Japanese

 

A film by Harkjoon Lee, Dongkyun Ko and Hein S. Seok

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