North-South Tragedy Gaining Popularity

North Korean sources report that a 2008 South Korean film about the tragic disintegration of a family in the border region of North Korea is now garnering popularity in the very region where it was set.


A smuggler from North Hamkyung Province revealed the story yesterday, explaining, “Nowadays, the number of people seeking out the ‘Crossing’ DVD is rising. The official crackdown on the jangmadang has gotten harsher, but nevertheless some people are paying a premium to smugglers and traders to get that DVD.”

The source went on, “People who have seen Crossing reckon that, ‘Somehow, they have expressed the reality of this place’.”

Crossing is the story of a North Korean man who risks his life to get to China to get medicine for his sick wife, but is ultimately unable to return. Following the wife’s subsequent death due to treatable TB, the man’s 11-year old son is left alone to try and find his father, without any idea as to how to go about it.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the young boy, the father has been caught up in a Chinese crackdown on defectors and had to run to South Korea.

The movie accurately describes the ghastly choices that defectors are forced to make and the reality of the human rights reality they face, not to mention the cruelty of mere ordinary existence in North Korea. It is this that is apparently garnering popularity with the North Korean people themselves.

According to the source, “The story of Crossing is the reality of North Korea today. In particular, there are many defectors around here, which might be why it is so popular. The popularity of Crossing is quite impressive; middle school kids lending the DVD to each other at school, for example.”

On a related note, a Yangkang Province also revealed yesterday that popular tastes in illegal discs are changing more broadly, saying, “In the past, people enjoyed dramas about love, but recently many have been seeking out movies and dramas depicting the relationship between North and South.”

“A regular disc is 2000 won and an enjoyable historical drama costs 4000 won, but in the case of ‘Crossing’ or ‘Iris’ (a 2009 high budget KBS espionage drama), the price is 5000 won per disc. It is dangerous since the crackdown has been enhanced, but disc smugglers are earning a lot these days.