Russian film about North Korea exposes life under surveillance

SEOUL,  North Korea is at odds with Russia over a film and with Japan for its space program – exposing Pyongyang’s insecurities about its secret activities and strong reservations about its powerful neighbors.

Kim Jong Un visiting art students in Pyongyang. North Korea's propaganda arm works meticulously to manipulate public images of the state, according to a Russian filmmaker who is under pressure after exposing North Korea's reality. File Photo by Yonhap
Kim Jong Un visiting art students in Pyongyang. North Korea’s propaganda arm works meticulously to manipulate public images of the state, according to a Russian filmmaker who is under pressure after exposing North Korea’s reality. File Photo by Yonhap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vitaly Mansky, a Russian filmmaker who has produced a documentary on life in North Korea, was under pressure to prevent screenings of his work because some of the footage exposed the reality of the state, The Guardian reported.

The film, Under the Sun, follows a North Korean girl who is preparing for the birthday anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Vitaly was given extensive access to the girl’s North Korean family, and he witnessed firsthand how his film’s subjects were manipulated or instructed to act and behave before the camera.

During filming, the Russian filmmaker decided to leave the camera running to show how government agents interfered with the family’s life. North Korean minders, who had their own ideas about the “ideal” family, often harassed the North Korean girl, Zin-mi, and her family. The agents would tell subjects what to say, how to sit and when to smile.

“I wanted to make a film about the real Korea, but there’s no real life in the way that we consider…There is just the creation of an image of the myth of a real life. So we made a film about fake reality,” Mansky said.

Mansky spent a year in the country to work on the film and is now fending off criticism from Russian politicians, who are complaining Mansky and his co-producers had lied to the North Koreans. The Russian government wants to rescind its support of the film, he said, possibly due to pressure from Pyongyang.

North Korea also is wary of Japan’s latest activities in the space realm.

Pyongyang’s state newspaper Rodong Sinmun slammed Tokyo for its non-military satellite launches, and said Japan is undermining the peace and security of the region.

Japan recently launched a commercial satellite on behalf of a Canadian firm, but Pyongyang said Japan’s space program is being developed to expand its military presence.

Tokyo wants to gather satellite images of the North in preparation of an invasion, Pyongyang said.

By Elizabeth Shim

UPI NEWS