Thursday, October 29, 2009


One of this year’s most engaging topics at the SDAFF were the various films and forums that discussed the rampant and tyrannical regime that exists in North Korea and how that Communist country is currently being ruled by a man in which part of his name pretty much describes the situation of the people of N. Korea…ill.

Kim Jong-il, son of N. Korea’s first god complex president Kim Il-sung, became president of North Korea October 8th, 1997, three years after Il-sung passed away in 1994 from a heart attack.

One could possibly say that if Il-sung thought he was a god, his son Jong-il must have been a connoisseur of cheese, thus the crazy notion that Jong-il’s motto could have been “cheeses saves.” But Jong-il also had a god complex and legend has it that he too can control the weather.

However, apparently he must have been sleeping during the 1990s as he was not able to bring about the needed weather pattern changes to nullify the great famine between 1995 and 1998, that was brought on by drought and flooding.

Seriously, all kidding aside, it does not matter how much the West pokes away at Kim Jong-il, he will merely poke away at his own people until they burst and deflate into nothingness.

Where Tibet has Gere, Dafur has Speilberg, and even Bangladesh had the Beatles, no celebrity is willing to speak out for the dying, starving and oppressed people of N. Korea.

Yet there are filmmakers and others trying to get the word out, to let the world know what the frick-frack is going on over in N. Korea as their pseudo-smiling president has become famous to American teens for his persistent bad hair days as depicted in the puppet-comedy TEAM AMERICA, and the too well known to the discerning public for the hair raising fear he instills upon the his people, and his hair-brained nuclear weapon schemes.

They are a different brand of celebrity, ones who are willing to speak for the N. Koreans who needlessly die in concentration…oops…I mean labor camps for committing deadly crimes like reading a bible, stealing a slice of bread for a meal, being a friend or relative to someone who said something negative about N. Korea or “god forbid” about Kim (which of course he does forbid).

I have already written about the powerfully emotional treatise on the plight of a N. Korean man trying to save his dying wife by sneaking into Communist China to get medicine and the subsequent events that affected him, his wife and only child in CROSSING.

Over the weekend, there were two main events that were a must see: The eye opening documentary film KIMJONGILIA, directed by N.C. Heikin; and the NORTH KOREA: IN FOCUS panel featuring Heikin, UCSD’s Professor Stephan Haggard and human rights activist for the N. Korean people Hannah Song.

In the heart wrenching KIMJONGILIA, a handful of Korean refugees who escaped the damning clutches of N. Korea reveal through personal accounts of life North of the 38th Parallel, a life that in no way parallels anything we are accustomed to in the United States.

What makes this film more powerful than any of those documentaries that bludgeon you with images of inhumane suffering and archive footage of violence gone awry, is that via dance and the compelling stories of these brave men and women that fled N. Korea, you get drawn into the film and hear what is being said, so you tune in rather than get turned off.

What was disappointing (but expected) to hear was how the Chinese treat the N. Korean refugees. Although they are required by international law to protect these defectors, the Chinese gladly send them back to N. Korea, knowing full well that they will be killed upon their return.

The Chinese claim that the N. Korean’s are a burden on that part of the country’s economy. It must also be a burden getting all that money through a growing economy compliments of Western Capitalism…oops, wrong…that doesn’t exist in a Communist country…right?

The NORTH KOREA: IN FOCUS panel further discussed and analyzed these above topics and much more as I was able to weasel in a final comment at the end of the panel when I summarized, “So what you are all saying, is that North Korea needs a career (Korea) change.”

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