The Children of North Korea Escaped to China
Talbuk Sonyeondul Chungguk e Kada

KOREA / 1999 / Korean / Color / Video / 35 min

Director, Photography, Editing, Producer:
Byun Jae-sung
Source: Byun Jae-sung
Indie story, 2fl, Hanul Bldg, 109-1, Samsung-dong, Kangnam-gu, Seoul 135-090 KOREA
Phone: 82-2-517-6069
Fax: 82-2-517-6065
E-mail: indiestory@netsgo.com

Byun Jae-sung

Born in Kimje, Korea in 1964. Photo & video journalist, documentary director. Worked for Yonhap News Agency as staff photographer. Since 1990, working for the Hangyore daily newspaper as staff photographer. The Children of North Korea Escaped to China is his first documentary film. He made this film during a visit to Yanbian as a reporter in early 1999. Recently he' s running an internet website, The Network for Human Communication, to report and save the North Korean refugee-children in China. The URL is: www.echopress.net.

A South Korean newspaper photographer filmed this short video, covering the homeless boys from North Korea in the border cities of China through interviews and footage of their daily life. While their sentimental stories of longing for home do touch the viewer's emotions, it is their street-wise toughness and merchant savvy in risking the trip back with rice to sell that reveals another reality.

Director's Statement

This film shows a group of refugee boys who escaped from North Korea in search of food, across to Chinese border cities like Tumen and Yanji in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Region in Jilin Province, and Shenyang in Liaoning Province. The boys live from hand to mouth by begging on the streets, doing some errands in restaurants, and selling trash for recycling. But they never lost their dream of going back home with some money to help their starving families. Some boys sleep under the shelter of paper boxes to avoid the rain. Other boys go to big cities to get more money. The camera follows the boys as they stop on their way at the shore of the Dooman River, the border of China and North Korea. Reluctantly it loses sight of them as they go back to North Korea.
The deteriorating food situation in North Korea has caused an increasing number of boys to cross the border into China to search for food. From early 1989, North Korean children refugees have increased drastically. They cross the Dooman River together with a group of their own age and live day to day by begging on the streets in China. My focus is independent from ideology and politics; it is, first of all, to show the children's miserable situation lacking any humanitarian support from the Chinese government. I also wanted to catch a real picture of them, different from their image on official North Korean government TV.
I deliberately avoided adding a voice-over narration to avoid inserting my own subjective point of view.
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COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee