[imText1]When the cell phone rings the first time, Max Jones ignores it. It’s the middle of an interview, and in any case the phone is not to hand. But the second time, he takes it. Perhaps surprisingly, given that this is the phone of a North American teenager, President Lee Myung Bak’s secretary is on the other end of the line.
“Great news,” Max announces at the culmination of the call. “We are having breakfast together tomorrow morning to organize an interview with President Lee.”
Max may be young, just 14, but he also obviously knows how to get access to high places. It is all down to perseverance, his mother assures me. And now this young man, born in Florida but a resident of Toronto, is bringing his seemingly unlimited reserves of enthusiasm for journalism to bear on the multi-faceted problem of North Korea. This he is doing in the shape of a documentary film, ‘Seoul Sisters’, which he hopes to release later this year; it is slowly taking shape now after a month-long round of interviews in China and here in Seoul. Max is really here to talk to The Daily NK’s president, but The Daily NK wants a chance to talk to him, too.
‘Seoul Sisters’, Max tells me, is a film about defectors and the problems they face, and it is a film about problems on the Korean Peninsula, and it is also a film which looks inside North Korea. It is a lot to fit into an hour, that’s for sure.
“There were a lot of things I wasn’t going to be able to tell on paper and I wanted to tell them through various different mediums so I found that the most viable solution was actually doing a documentary film,” Max says, explaining why he didn’t take a slightly easier way out; a newspaper article, for example.
[imText2]“If you walk up to anyone my age here in Korea or in Canada and ask them what a refugee is, half of them will say they don’t know,” he continues. “They are really unaware of what is happening here, and uninformed about the whole entire crisis.”
Therefore, through his documentary, Max hopes “people will learn more about the crisis and be more interested in it.”
After all, he adds, “Nobody my age is interested in it, and yet they are going to be the people who are making this change.”
Below is the transcript of The Daily NK’s interview with 14-year old journalist and director Max Jones;