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First-Ever North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival

October 31, 2011

NKnet is pleased to invite you to the first-ever North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival in Seoul on November 10-11, 2011. There will be documentaries, new film shorts, and commercially made films. All events are free and open to the public. Several of the films will have English subtitles, please refer to the list below.

(updated 11/10 – a few schedule changes and, unfortunately, there will be no English subtitles for Winter Butterfly – very sorry for an inconvenience the changes may cause; updated 11/9 – details of opening ceremony, photos of organizing committee, info on photo exhibition)

Information in Korean


Thursday, November 10

1 – 3pm Crossing

3:20 – 5pm Children of Ryanggangdo

5:30 – 6:10pm Premier Screenings of Final Report, Inside

7 – 9pm Opening Ceremony

    • Premier Screenings of North Korea VJ, Lonely Echo
    • Congratulatory performance by pianist and North Korean defector Kim Cheol Woong, who appears in Kimjongilia
    • Actor Park Sang Min will serve as emcee.
    • Officials from the National Human Rights Commission of Korea and the Ministry of Unification will give congratulatory remarks.
    • Directors Ishimaru Jiro, Kwon Sun Do, Lee Sang Hyeon, Lee Hee Heon, and Cho Yeon Su will attend.

9:20 – 10pm Elephant in the Room

Friday, November 11

10 – 11:40am Dooman River

12 – 12:40pm Elephant in the Room

1 – 2:45pm Children of Ryanggangdo

3:20 – 4:40pm Elephant in the Room, Final Report, Inside

5 – 6:30pm Winter Butterfly

7 – 7:40pm North Korea VJ

8 – 9:30pm Kimjongilia


Lee Hae Rang Arts Theater (map in Korean)
@ Dongguk University

Dongguk University Station (line 3) – Exit 6

    – A few steps from exit 6 there is an escalator that goes up to the university. Take this up and then keep walking in the same direction until you see an entrance gate to the university (혜화문); the theater is to the left of that gate.

    – If you cannot take the escalator up, walk straight out of exit 6 and up the hill. On the left will be an entrance gate to the university (혜화문), and the theater is back and to the left of that gate. It takes about 5 minutes from the subway exit.

North Korean Human Rights Photo Exhibition

A part of NKnet’s North Korean Human Rights photo exhibition that opened in a gallery in Insadong in late October, then went to Busan and will be traveling to Daejeon and Jeonju later in the month, will be on display in the lobby.


View highlights from the films (Korean)

By Invitation (Films Premiering at the Festival):

North Korea VJ
Japanese journalist Ishimaru Jiro (ASIAPRESS) offers his latest documentary work, featuring recent secretly shot video of real life in North Korea.
English subtitles: No
View trailer
Running time: 40 minutes

Lonely Echo (외로운 메아리)
A documentary about South Koreans abducted to North Korea during the 1970s and 80s.
Director: Lee Hee Heon (이희헌)
English subtitles: No
View trailer (Korean)
Running time: 19 minutes

A documentary about the campaign to rescue “The Daughter of Tongyeong”
English subtitles: No
Running time: 14 minutes

By Invitation:

Winter Butterfly (겨울나비)
An 11-year old Jin Ho lives with his sick mother, by gathering firewood. Jin Ho is most afraid of losing his mother. One day, Jin Ho is lost on a mountain while collecting firewood. His mother goes to the police station and the mountain to seek Jin Ho. After a few days of hunger and cold weather, Jin Ho finally makes it home. However, this is only the beginning of a larger problem.
Director: Kim Gyu Min
English subtitles: No
More info: Kim Gyu Min is from North Hwanghae Province in North Korea, which lies between Seoul and Pyongyang. Read more about him and Winter Butterfly in this Daily NK interview. Lead actress Park So Yeon is also the film festival’s goodwill ambassador.
Running time: 90 minutes

Dooman River (두만강)
In a village on the Dooman (Tumen) River between Yanbian, China and North Hamkyong, North Korea, there is a Korean-Chinese boy named Chang Ho, who lives with his grandfather and sister. He befriends a North Korean boy, Jeong Jin, who crosses the border to find food. However, the boys’ friendship suffers as the adults in the village become troubled by North Korean defectors.
Director: Jang Ryul
English subtitles: No
Running time: 93 minutes

Children of Ryanggangdo (량강도 아이들)
In Bocheonbo, Samjiyeon County of Ryanggang Province, brothers Jong Su and Jong Sung live with their mother. Jong Su’s dream is to visit Pyongyang, but he is rejected by his school principal. However, Jong Su finds a balloon from South Korea on a Christmas day: a Santa Claus costume and a robot toy. Suddenly, he becomes a celebrity in his village.
Director: Jung Sung San
English subtitles: Yes
About the director: Jung Sung San attended Pyongyang Drama and Movie College, but in his last year was sent to prison for listening to South Korean radio. He also created the musical “Yoduk Story” in 2006. Read more about Jung Sung San and Children of Ryanggangdo in this Wall Street Journal blog piece.
Running time: 95 minutes

Crossing (크로싱)
A South Korean movie about a North Korean man who goes to China to get medicine to save his sick wife. In the process the family is torn apart.
Director: Kim Tae Gyun
English subtitles: Yes
Running time: 112 minutes

Kimjongilia (김정일리아)
American documentary featuring interviews of several North Korean refugees.
Official Selection – Sundance Film Festival
Director: NC Heikin
English subtitles: No – the version of the film with Korean narration and Korean subtitles will be shown
Running time: 76 minutes

Entries in the North Korean Human Rights Film Competition:

In July NKnet asked for scripts/scenarios submissions on the topic of North Korean human rights. We ended up picking the following three and provided the directors the funding to make them into short films. All three will be making their premier at the festival and shown together Thurs., Nov. 10 @ 5:20pm and Fri., Nov. 11 @ 3pm.

Elephant in the Room (따뜻한 이웃)
A documentary about foreigners involved in the North Korean Human Rights movement in South Korea.
Director: Cho Yeon Su
English subtitles: Yes
Running time: 30 minutes

Final Report (선처)
A fictional short film about a North Korean refugee who kills a fellow refugee in South Korea. The victim was a border guard in the North who killed members of his family when they were trying to escape.
Director: Kwon Sun Do
English subtitles: Yes
Running time: 22 minutes
View trailer (Korean)

Inside (인사이드)
A symbolic short film about a father protecting his daughter inside a tent besieged by demons led by Kim Jong Il.
Director: Lee Sang Hyeon
English subtitles: Yes
Running time: 20 minutes

Goodwill Ambassador

Park So Yeon, lead actress of Winter Butterfly

(read her Twitter feed)

Organizing Committee

Yu Sae Hee, chairman of NKnet

Oh Hyun Ju, former professor at Seoul Institute of the Arts

Lee Jang Ho, movie director in South Korea from the 1970s and 1980s

Additional Notes

All events are open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis; we are unable to take reservations. The theater seats about 300, so you may wish to come early to insure a seat for popular show times.

The film festival has been made possible by a grant from the South Korean Ministry of Unification.

Information in Korean

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110-044 4F, Shinguan (New Building), Pilun Building, 214 Pilun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea