Looking North: Films from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

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Nation and Destiny

By Young Sul

The West has long characterized the DPRK as a nation shrouded in secrecy. Western media, indeed, admits and heralds that it knows nothing about the people and the nation of the DPRK. Yet, in a schizoid twist, so much effort has been made to demonize this member of the "Axis of Evil" and its intentions toward the rest of the "Free World." Everyone, especially the Bush Administration, has conveniently forgotten the positive steps taken only a few years ago to alter this stance.

The June 2000 Summit, where the Presidents of North and South Korea met for the first time was covered heavily by the Western Media. The Clinton Administration embraced Kim Dae Jung's Sunshine policy toward the North. In remarks to President Kim during his visit to the United States, Clinton, expressed his strong support for the efforts of the two Koreas to find common ground with each other. At the same time, Western Nations were opening diplomatic doors to the DPRK: The United Kingdom, Australia, European Union, The Netherlands, to name a few, have either established diplomatic ties or are in the process of doing so.

All this has been shadowed and obscured by President Bush's portrayal of the DPRK as part of the "Axis of Evil." The Western Media has followed suit, and all that was known, or could have been discovered has been conveniently forgotten.

In an effort to overcome this institutionalized ignorance of the DPRK, a group, The Boston Korea Friendship Association, has organized a first time ever showing of films from the DPRK. Their hope is to provide a look inside this country through its own lens and to motivate people here to want to learn more about Koreans in the North.

Three films will be shown that were produced during the past 2 decades: "Soul's Protest" recalls a little-known tragedy at the end of World War II, it is also the first movie ever to be exported from the DPRK to an international audience. "Bellflower" portrays village life in the 1980s, and "Nation and Destiny" recalls a man's homecoming from the West.

The festival will end with a screening of a travel video of a group of young Koreans who visited the DPRK last year. It follows them throughout North Korea, and provides the most contempory glimpse of the DPRK today. A member of that group will be present to provide personal insight on their travels in the North.

For more information on film times and descriptions of the films, email bkfa@mit.edu.