July 17, 2008

Film Depicting Life of North Korean Defectors to Be Screened in Canada

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

Seoul, July 17 (Yonhap) - A South Korean film depicting the harsh reality of life for North Korean defectors will be screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) this year, the distributor here said Thursday.

"Tony Rayns, a programmer for the VIFF, has recently invited us to show the film at the festival. 'Crossing' will be shown at the section of Dragons and Tigers, a programme introducing films of East Asia," an official at Vantage Holdings said.

The VIFF is an annual film festival held in Vancouver, Canada, for two weeks in late September through early October. This year, it is scheduled from Sep. 25 to Oct. 10. The festival, which shows both Canadian and international films, has established a reputation as a stepping stone for many young Asian filmmakers. In 2004, it was the largest exhibition of Asian films outside of Asia.

The story, inspired by the dramatic entry of North Korean defector Jang Gil-su and his six relatives into the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Beijing in 2001, portrays the dramatic escape of a father and a son crossing the border out of hunger-stricken North Korea.

An increasing number of North Koreans are fleeing their impoverished country for Vietnam, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries via China, mostly on their way to South Korea.

About 12,000 North Koreans have arrived in South Korea since the three-year Korean War ended in 1953. But China has an agreement with its close communist ally North Korea to repatriate those they consider economic migrants, a policy strongly criticized by human rights groups. Critics say the deported defectors face harsh punishment, including prison, forced labour and execution.

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0109 17 Jul 08.

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