Shadow Flowers

  • Seung-Jun Yi
  • South Korea
  • 2019
  • 109 min
  • International Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary

The North Korean Ryun-hee Kim unwittingly ended up in South Korea in 2011. Returning to the neighboring enemy country turns out to be more difficult than expected.

The camera follows Ryun-hee as she goes about her life in the capitalist South, far from her husband, daughter and frail parents. She’s mostly focused on various strategies to get out of South Korea. She goes to the Vietnamese Embassy to apply for political asylum, and during the 2017 Ice Hockey World Cup she runs up to the bus waiting for the North Korean team. She even starts spying in the hope of being extradited, but the South Korean government won’t let her go. When the tensions between the two countries start to relax, there’s a glimmer of hope, but then her situation becomes hopeless again. We follow Ryun-hee through all these ups and downs.

After years of bureaucratic wrangling, she gets a South Korean passport—along with a travel ban that gets extended every month. A disturbing story that turns our ideas about North and South Korea on their head.


  • 109 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Korean
  • Subtitles in: English (Closed Captioned)
Seung-Jun Yi
Gary Byung-Seok Kam for Bluebird Pictures, Seung-Jun Yi for Bluebird Pictures
Seung-Jun Yi, Mika Mattila, Hyuck-Ji Park, Hyo-Bong Jang
Seung-Jun Yi, Hak-Min Lee
World Sales
Taskovski Films

IDFA history

International Premiere
IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary

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IDFA history

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