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Crossing the Line : Phantoms of the Border

The challenge of freedom dearly paid

Year: 2012, 52 mins
Code: IC-Crossing5
ISBN: 978-1-922007-64-3

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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’.

Human Traffic
On the border of China and North Korea, North Korean women are offered to Chinese brokers. They are sold on the human market to assure the subsistence of their remaining families.
Becoming part of Chinese peasant families in the countryside, they work then in fields and on the farm and often become surrogate mothers. If they are discovered by Chinese police, they are arrested and sent back to North Korea. For them, there is a real dilemma: is it better to abandon the child and run away or to continue as is?

In these border villages, the endless tears of these women echo the plight of the following generation. Indeed, the children of these women do not get any identity papers. So, they become "phantoms", without any legal and social existence. To help the victims of this merciless system, where money is everything, an NGO helps the children concerned taking refuge in Thailand. From there, they might be adopted. Mi-jin, Hong-hi and Ji-young are three of these "phantoms” we filmed during their highly risky flight and onward journey.

Writer : Harkjoon Lee, Dongkyun Ko, Hein S. Seok Director : Harkjoon Lee, Dongkyun Ko, Hein S. Seok

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