The Defector: Escape from North Korea

  • Ann Shin
  • Canada
  • 2012
  • 71 min
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Every year, large numbers of people flee North Korea by attempting to cross its border with China. But not everyone makes it across, and those who do are still not safe: China does not recognize North Korean refugees, so those who are caught are deported back to their home country. They have to move on, and this is where Dragon comes in. Once a refugee himself, Dragon now mediates between refugees and human traffickers who lead them through the Chinese provinces and Laos to Thailand. This journey is also fraught with the constant danger of being caught. Dragon's position is ambivalent; he sees himself as a human rights activist, not as "some shady broker" who charges a fee. This tense, revealing documentary uses a hidden camera to follow two North Korean refugees and Dragon. Along the way, the director builds a relationship with the refugees. We often see her on-screen, sometimes looking quite concerned. The parts of the story that take place in North Korea are shown by means of animation and footage that was smuggled out of the country. The situation of these North Koreans and the circumstances of their flight as revealed in this film raise questions about their human rights in China.

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  • 71 min
  • color
  • video
Screening copy
Fathom Film Group
Ann Shin
Stephen Chung
Ann Shin
Manfred Becker, Steve Guise, Chris Wiseman
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