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[Opinion] A Prison Camp Movie From a Filmmaker Who Lived It

[Opinion] A Prison Camp Movie From a Filmmaker Who Lived It

Posted November. 02, 2005 05:07,   


Swiri (1999), Joint Security Area (2000), TaeGukGi: Brotherhood Of War (2004), and Welcome To Dongmakgol (2005) were all movies with anti-war and inter-Korean reconciliation messages. They were also smash hits. Blue Saigon, a creative musical which played a few years ago, also attracted attention for its anti-war message.

Who would oppose the idea of living peacefully without wars?

“It is regrettable that nobody seems to be talking about the social cost and suffering required to attain peace,” said Jeon Sang-in, a professor of sociology at Seoul National University.

In this vein, movie director Jeong Sung-san (37), a defector from North Korea, decided to make a musical called “Yodoek Story” that deals with a camp of political prisoners in Yodoek, in order to shed light on the “costs and suffering” of peace. His decision can be interpreted as a willingness to reveal the hypocrisy of those who talk about national unity while ignoring the human rights of the North Korean people.

Jeong showed up at an event for the declaration of the current situation, signed by 9,590 conservatives last month, with the aim of asking for more attention to be paid to the human rights situation in North Korea.

He majored in filmmaking in college, graduated from Pyongyang Film University, and attended Moscow National Film University. He was imprisoned at the Sariwon camp for political prisoners after getting caught listening to Korean broadcasting in the military. He succeeded in escaping from the camp and came to South Korea in 1995.

He had a hard time making a living, but he never gave up his dream of becoming a movie director. He went to Dongguk University to major in film and drama. He heard that his father had been the victim of a purge in 2002 and that he had been stoned to death in the political prisoner camp at Yanggangdo.

He has received many text message threats such as: “I will kill you if you produce the musical”, “you traitor,” and others. However, he shows no inclination to give in to these threats, thanks to the memory of his father and the people with whom he spent time behind camp gates.

I hope he will not yield to the threats. If you find the movie “Welcome to Dongmakgol” moving, I recommend you watch “Yodoek Story,” which will begin next March in Seoul.

Song Moon-hong, Editorial Writer, songmh@donga.com