In 2001 I visited the DPRK (North-Korea) for a week, which was a very strange experience. Although it was a vacation, I was glad to be back in China afterwards, and I felt like I needed another holiday in order to get back to reality. On this trip I met among others Dan Gordon and Nick Bonner (Nick’s company Koryo Tours had organized the trip). It later turned out that Dan was preparing a film about the DPRK during the week we were there. He had a DV camera with him all the time and was shooting a lot of footage, but at that time nobody knew why he was doing that. This footage later became the basis for his first documentary ‘The game of their Lives’, about the North-Korean soccer team that made it to the soccer World Cup finals in 1966.
Dan and Nick have since made several films about life in the DPRK, and the lateste one is about a US defector who has been living there since 1962. The 90-minute film, that premiered at last month’s Sundance festival, is titled ‘Crosssing the Line’. There used to be 3 other US defectors, but they either died, or finally managed to leave (Robert Jenkins). They were the first foreigners to meet Mr. Dresnok in 45 years. Mr. Dresnok says he does not want to leave anymore, although he once tried to get asylum in the Russian embassy. It turns out he also has an 18-year old blonde son now, who looks British but is completely Korean.
CBS’ 60 minutes interviewed Dan and Nick about their latest documentary, and show a lot of footage about the DPRK and Mr. Dresnok. I enjoyed every second of the 13-minute program, even though I had to wait an hour to load the whole program due to China’s internet firewall. Fascinating stuff!
The 13-minute program on CBS: http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=2405878n
A 7-minute, less interesting, version on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZtkHUkZ8Rg