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4th Annual North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival

September 10, 2014

NKnet announces the 4th annual North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival!

Friday, September 26 – Saturday, September 27, 2014
10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Indie Space in Gwanghwamun & the Seoul Museum of History

Facebook event page for the festival
Facebook event page for the opening ceremony

20-page PDF Brochure (mostly Korean with some English)

한국어/Info in Korean: 페이스북, 네이버 블로그

– Updated 9/16 with information on subtitles, directors, film categories, how to RSVP, etc.
– Updated 9/19 with photos, descriptions, and trailers for some of the films
– Updated 9/21 with more trailers, etc., including for the opening night film, The Threshold of Death
– Updated 9/22 – Dance Town WILL have English subtitles, The Apostle will not; updated RSVP section gave more detailed info about the performances, etc., at the opening ceremony; added trailer playlist
– Updated 9/24 with awards several of the films have won at other film festivals
– Updated 9/25 with links to trailers for all but one of the remaining films and added an intro section

Banner logo: 4th Annual North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival

Introducing the 4th NHIFF

The 4th annual NHIFF looks at human rights inside North Korea, reunification of the peninsula, and resettlement of North Korean refugees, while also including a film about the human rights of Arab women. There are eight full-length films and six short films from Korea, the United States, and Saudi Arabia.

Two films received financial assistance from the festival: The Threshold of Death, which discusses the human rights of North Korean defectors and illegal migrants, and November 9th, which throws out many questions about whether we’re prepared to reunify on the Korean peninsula as Germany did.

Many of this year’s films have received a variety of awards from film festivals around the world. The director of Hello, Stranger, Kim Dong-Hyun, had the honor of another of his films being the closing work at the Busan International Film Festival last year.

We look forward to seeing you on September 26-27, be sure to get your RSVPs in as soon as possible!

P.S. There are also special screenings & lectures planned later in the fall in the US:

• Nov. 1-4, Hawaii Korean Christian Church (하와이 한인기독교회)
• Nov. 6-7, Monterey Youngnak Church (몬트레이 영락교회)
• Nov. 8-9, Korean United Methodist Church of Santa Clara Valley (산타클라라 연합감리교회)

Trailer Playlist

Below is a playlist of a short promo piece and seven of the films being screening at this year’s film festival (about 12 minutes total). It concludes with two complete short films (10 minutes and 35 minutes) from the festival.

Note that there is no correlation between whether a given trailer has English subtitles and whether there will be English subtitles for the corresponding film at the festival. See the Film Info & Schedule section below for information about subtitles for each screening.

Many of the trailers in the playlist are also individually embedded in this page below. You may also view a larger, albeit different collection of trailers on the Korean NHIFF Facebook page. Several of these too have been individually linked below.

How to RSVP

All of the screenings and the opening ceremony are free of charge, but because seating is limited, it is recommended that you RSVP for the film(s) you want to see. Those who have made reservations will be admitted first and then any remaining seats will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis. (If you have a reservation, please don’t be late!)

To RSVP to one or more films, fill out this online form. If you don’t read Korean, type your first and last name in the first blank, your cell phone number in the second blank, and your email address in the third blank. All three of these fields are required. When selecting film screenings to attend, you may select multiple screenings. If you’ve already filled the form out but need to make a change, or if you have questions, please email

To attend the opening ceremony (featuring a screening of The Threshold Of Death), please send an email to and provide your name, organization/school, cell phone number, and how many seats you’ll need.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony will be 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. on Friday, September 26, 2014, at the Seoul Museum of History (서울역사박물관), which is just a few hundred meters from Indie Space.

The program will include:

• A children’s choir made up of North Korean escapees
• A quartet from Seokyeoung Music School Society
• An interview with Kim Seo Yeon, a sixth-grader who wrote a children’s book, Please Grant My Wish (친구야, 내 소원을 들어주어), after hearing about nine North Korean youth forcibly sent back to North Korea by Laos last year. There will also be a screening of an animated version of the book made by Open Radio for North Korea/OTV earlier this year. See Daily NK article for more about Kim Seo Yeon and her book.

• The organizing committee will officially declare the film festival open.
2014 NHIFF Goodwill Ambassadors from the TV show On My Way To Meet You
• Introductions of the film festival’s goodwill ambassadors – four of the young North Korean defector women who appear on the popular TV program On My Way to Meet You (이제 만나러 갑니다) on Channel A – Kim A-ra, Kim Jin-ok, Shin Eun-ha, and Shin Eun-hee.
• NKnet president Han Ki Hong will introduce Lee Eun Sang (The Threshold of Death) and Kim Gyu Min (November 9th), directors of the films NHIFF provided financial assistance to this year.
• A screening of The Threshold of Death (사선의 끝) – trailer and more info below.

To RSVP for the opening ceremony, please see the directions above. English translation will not be provided for the proceedings, but the screening of The Threshold of Death will have English subtitles.

Film Info & Schedule

The following films will be screened at Indie Space in Gwanghwamun (광화문 인디스페이스 극장) – see directions below.

Please take special note of which films will be screened with English subtitles as not all films have them.

Friday, September 26

November 9th: 10 hours from now, the ceasefire line will collapse and the Korean peninsula will be reunified.
10 a.m.
November 9th (11월 9일)
100 min. – Korea – documentary – no English subtitles
Directed by: Kim Gyu-Min (김규민 – the director of Winter Butterfly, which played at the first NHIFF in 2011)
Category: Reunification of the Korean Peninsula (한반도 통일)
*this film received production assistance from NHIFF
*Following the film, there will be a conversation with the director, who is originally from North Korea (interpretation will not be provided).


10 hours from now, the ceasefire line will collapse and the Korean peninsula will be reunified.

On Thursday, November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall – symbolizing the division of Germany – fell. It wasn’t through an agreement of the East and West German governments that it happened on that day. Nor were East or West German academics or anyone else from around the world for that matter able to foresee the wall would come down on November 9, 1989. A year later Germany was reunified for the first time in 41 years through the votes of the East and West German citizenry in free elections.

– What might transpire if November 9 were to come to the Korean peninsula?
– How much have we prepared for a Korean 11/9?
– In preparing for a Korean 11/9, what are the things we must do first?
– Is there any way to know what will happen on 11/10 and beyond?

1 p.m.
Dance Town (댄스타운)
95 min. – Korea – English subtitles
Directed by: Jeon Gyu-Hwan (전규환)
Category: North Korean Human Rights Close Up (북한인권 들여다 보기)
* Best Narrative Feature at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas (2011)

The following excerpts are from a review at Hanguk Yeonghwa (read the rest at the link):

Dance Town (댄스 타운), the third installment in a trilogy preceded by Mozart Town (모차르트 타운, 2008) and Animal Town (애니멀 타운, 2009), is an exploration of life in a big city. Screenwriter/director Jeon Kyu-hwan (전규환) is indeed intrigued by the lives of ordinary folk and their daily lives, employing social-realist and humanist stylings akin to directors such as Mike Leigh. However, in his latest take on living in a metropolis, Jeon Kyu-hwan incorporates more political and ideological sensibilities as his central protagonist is a North Korean defector.

Dance Town is a bleak and disturbing character study, one that reveals city life is cruel and barbaric. Furthermore, the film is politically charged as Jung-rim’s life in Pyongyang is represented far better than the supposedly ‘great’ life offered by the capitalist South. However, the problem with Dance Town is that director Jeon Kyu-hwan tries to incorporate too much social commentary within and as such, certain themes that could have been probed further are given marginal fragments of screen time which ultimately detracts from the impact of the film. And yet, Dance Town is so raw, and Jung-rim’s journey so poignant, that the film will stay with audiences long after the finale and encourage those living in cities to ponder their own existence.


View a Different Trailer (Facebook video)

poster: Hello, Stranger
3 p.m.
Hello, Stranger (처음 만난 사람들)
112 min. – Korea – English subtitles
Directed by: Kim Dong-Hyun (김동현)
Category: Refugees & Resettlement (탈북난민 그리고 정착)
* winner of the Busan International Film Festival’s NETPAC (The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award in 2007 for the best Korean film in New Currents or Korean Cinema Today-Vision Section
About the director: Kim’s film The Dinner (2013) was the closing film at the Busan International Film Festival last year, and he is serving as a judge at this year’s BIFF for the newly created Daemyung Culture Wave Award. (BIFF)


Jin-ook, who has just completed his resettlement training after coming from North Korea, gets lost going to his new home on his first night in Seoul. He and Hye-jung, a taxi driver who came from the North 10 years ago, spend all night looking for his home. In the morning he takes a bus to Busan to meet his North Korean defector friends, and he ends up looking after Ting-yoon, an immigrant laborer from Vietnam who can’t speak any Korean and has gotten on the wrong bus.

photo from The Journals of Musan (무산일기)
5 p.m.
The Journals of Musan (무산일기)
127 min. – Korea – no English subtitles
Directed by: Park Jung-Beom (박정범)
Category: Refugees & Resettlement (탈북난민 그리고 정착)
* won for Best New Narrative Director at the Tribeca Film Festival (2011), New Currents Award at the Busan International Short Film Festival (2010), etc.


Jeon Seungchul’s citizen registration number brands him as a North Korean defector. It is difficult to find a good job and it’s hard to get along with people at church. He is not an ex-convict or a migrant worker, but he is subjected to many discriminations. Like the stray dog he looks after, Jeon Seungchul is a misfit in South Korea’s capitalist society. (IMdb)

Saturday, September 27

10 a.m. (three short films):

photo: Mourning Period
Mourning Period (애도기간)
16 min. – Korea – English subtitles
Directed by: Hong Sung-Min (홍성민)
Category: North Korean Human Rights Close Up (북한인권 들여다 보기)

View Trailer (Facebook video)

photo: Choongshim, Soso
Choongshim, Soso (충심, 소소)
36 min. – Korea – English subtitles
Directed by: Kim Jung-In (김정인)
Category: North Korean Human Rights Close Up (북한인권 들여다 보기)
* Best Screenplay at the Busan International Short Film Festival (2013)

View Trailer (Facebook video)

Danny from North Korea
Danny From North Korea
35 min. – USA – English subtitles
Produced by: Liberty in North Korea (LiNK)
Category: North Korean Human Rights Close Up (북한인권 들여다 보기)


Every year, thousands of North Koreans make the dangerous journey across the border to escape oppression and enforced poverty. In March of 2005, Danny was one of them. He escaped a life of indoctrination, public executions, and starvation. This is a documentary about Danny’s story; from his challenging life in North Korea, to his brave escape to China, and his resettlement in the United States. (LiNK)

Watch the teaser for Danny from North Korea on Youtube.
Watch the complete film on Youtube.

12 p.m. (three short films):

photo: The Jazz Quartet
The Jazz Quartet (더 재즈 쿼텟)
28 min. – Korea – English subtitles
Directed by: Yoo Dae-Eol (유대얼)
Category: Refugees & Resettlement (탈북난민 그리고 정착)

View Trailer (Facebook video)

photo: Teeth
Teeth (이빨 두 개)
26 min. – Korea – no English subtitles
Directed by: Kang Yi-Kwan (강이관)
Category: Refugees & Resettlement (탈북난민 그리고 정착)

View Trailer (Facebook video)

photo: Myunghee
Myunghee (명희)
30 min. – Korea – English subtitles
Directed by: Kim Tae-Hoon (김태훈)
Category: Refugees & Resettlement (탈북난민 그리고 정착)

View Trailer (Facebook video)

movie poster: Our Family
2 p.m.
Our Family (우리가족)
85 min. – Korea – documentary – English subtitles
Directed by: Kim Do-Hyun (김도현)
Category: Refugees & Resettlement (탈북난민 그리고 정착)
* As of Monday, 9/22, seats for this screening are going quickly, so you need to RSVP quickly!

The opening night film at last year’s festival, Our Family documents a South Korean man’s efforts to raise 10 orphan boys from North Korea. Most of the films in our yearly film festival are grim in nature, but this one is a wonderful exception to the rule and not to be missed. Since last year’s film festival, it was released in theaters in South Korea in the summer of 2014.

movie poster: Wadjda (Korean release)
3:30 p.m.
98 min. – Saudi Arabia, Germany – in Arabic with Korean subtitles (no English subtitles)
Directed by: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Category: Human Rights of Arab Women (특별상영: 아랍영성인권)
* won Dioraphte Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (2013), etc.
* As of Monday, 9/22, seats for this screening are going quickly, so you need to RSVP quickly.


Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn’t be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. But Wadjda’s mother won’t allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself. At first, Wadjda’s mother is too preoccupied with convincing her husband not to take a second wife to realize what’s going on. And soon enough Wadjda’s plans are thwarted when she is caught running various schemes at school. Just as she is losing hope of raising enough money, she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. (from IMdb)

movie poster: The-Apostle (신이 보낸 사람)
5:40 p.m.
The Apostle (신이 보낸 사람)
112 min. – Korea – no English subtitles
Directed by: Kim Jin-Moo (김진무)
Category: North Korean Human Rights Close Up (북한인권 들여다 보기)


The Korean title literally translates to “a person sent by God.” The Apostle is a story of the members of a secret church in North Korea that are viciously persecuted by the government.

Read a review at Han Cinema.

photo: Threshold of Death (사선의 끝) - Dong-jin walks on the docks.
7:40 p.m.
The Threshold of Death (사선의 끝)
115 min. – Korea – English subtitles
Directed by: Lee Eun Sang (이은상)
Category: Refugees & Resettlement (탈북난민 그리고 정착)
*this film received financial assistance from NHIFF
*this film will also be screened at the opening ceremony on Friday night — RSVPs for both the screening and the opening ceremony are at or near capacity


Dong-jin works at the immigration office uncovering illegal immigrants. His relationship with his father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, is one of obligation, and things are awkward getting together with his younger brother Dong-seok and his family.

Coworker Nam-il regularly uses his position to commit corruption, while team member Eun-sung is led by compassion and unable to be cold-hearted. Unable to build relationships with those around him in his lonely daily life, Dong-jin finds himself intrigued by Yeon-hwa, a Chinese-Korean he meets who works at a noraebang (a singing room).

View a Different Trailer (Facebook video)

When he receives a call out of the blue from a broker who is guiding his niece, Soon-bok (who has escaped from North Korea) to South Korea, things fall into disarray. Seeing Yeon-hwa’s difficult situation and Soon-bok’s purity and will to live, Dong-jin starts to change little by little from his cold ways. [SPOILER ALERT – stop reading here if you plan to see the film] In the wake of his weak father’s death and then Yeon-hwa’s suicide, Dong-jin works hard to find Soon-bok.

All of this amounts to nothing as his coworker Nam-il tries to shift the blame for his corrupt dealings to Dong-jin and Eun-sung betrays him in order to protect his family. Having lost everything, Dong-jin is left alone only with his sad reality and desire to see Soon-bok.


Both venues are located between Seodaemun Station (exit 4) and Gwanghwamun Station (exit 7) on line 5. From either station, it’s approximately 500 meters or an 8-minute walk.

If coming by bus, get off at the Seoul Museum of History (서울역사박물관) stop.

Both buildings are across the main street from the large Hammering Man statue.

To Indie Space (for everything but the opening ceremony):

If coming from Seodaemun Station (exit 4), pass the Seoul Museum of History on your left and just before the Salvation Army Building with a Cafe Bene on the corner, turn left. Indie Space is the first building on the left. If coming from Gwanghwamun Station, walk straight from exit 7 for several minutes (400-500m). You will see the Hammering Man statue across the road on your left and you’ll come to the Salvation Army building. At the Cafe Bene on the far end of the Salvation Army building, turn right. Indie Space is the first building on the left.

To the Seoul Museum of History (for the opening ceremony ONLY):

If coming from Seodaemun Station, the museum will be on your left, if from Gwanghwamun Station, it will be on your right. The entrance is set back from the road a bit, sort of behind the old streetcar.

– This year’s film festival was made possible by grants from the Ministry of Security and Public Administration and Somang Church.

Poster: 4th Annual North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival
Schedule & Map: 4th Annual North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival

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