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Young N. Korean defectors produce short film in Seoul

Young North Korean defectors recently completed shooting a short film in Seoul that aims to show young South Koreans that they are the same, said a film producer who helped them make the movie.

Choi Ji-hoon, producer at With Culture, a culture marketing company, met the North Korean defectors in their late teens to early 20s at a film class for students at Durihana International School as part of the company’s volunteering work. The school opened in 2009 in southern Seoul for North Korean defectors.

“I was thinking about what kind of volunteering I could do to help North Korean defectors adjust to South Korean society and I started giving a lecture to help them understand what film is about,” Choi told The Korea Herald

“Surprisingly, their understanding of movies was deeper than I expected. So, I decided to produce a film with them.”

“The Interview,” a 15-minute “fake documentary” film, features a documentary producer’s interviews with a 22-year-old North Korean college student. The producer tries to gauge the boy’s opinions and outlook but ends up discovering that he is agonized over a girl, just as most South Korean boys are.
Han Min (left), a 22-year-old North Korean defector, shooting a scene of the short film, “The Interview.” (With Culture)
Han Min (left), a 22-year-old North Korean defector, shooting a scene of the short film, “The Interview.” (With Culture)

“The film sends a message that people should look at North Koreans just as they look at South Koreans,” Choi said.

Han Min, who plays the lead role as a North Korean boy, wrote most of the script and directed the filming. Han left the North in early 2002 to China and came to the South this January.

Besides 22-year-old Han, his four North Korean peers aged 19-21 did not act but worked as the film crew for fear of being exposed to the media. They worried that their families in the North could be in danger.

“Whether you act in the film or not is decided by whether you have families left in the North or not,” Choi said.

The 30-year-old producer started the moviemaking project with the students in March. The students themselves picked a theme and worked on the script together for two months.

They started shooting the film on Nov. 19 and completed it recently.

After editing, they will submit “The Interview” to international film festivals from early next year including the Seoul International Youth Film Festival in the summer, he said.

The hardest thing about making the film was getting them interested in the project itself.

“Unless they feel it is fun, it is almost impossible to work with them. But it was difficult for me to motivate them at the initial stage because they have not been educated in South Korea,” he said.

However, it was more than rewarding to see the young North Korean defectors adapt to Korean society, little by a little, through the movie project, Choi said.

By Kim Yoon-mi (