Now, before we go on with the review, let me tell you a little secret. Hell on Earth does exist. In fact, there are many places like that on Earth. North Korea is one of them…
The film is a documentary, based on several interviews from North Koreans, people of various ages and professions, who escaped the Kim dynasty regime in North Korea, and based themselves in other countries (mostly South Korea and China).
Among them are female dancer, male piano player, a former North Korean army general, and even a prostitute. The film is basically a story of combined interviews of people, who fled North Korea from 1992 and 2006.
The film briefly tells the story of how Kim Il-Sung came to power in NK, and then, when he died in 1994, his son, Kim Jong-Il took over.
Now, if you don’t know, there are totalitarian countries, and authoritarian countries. Totalitarian are those, where country is being run by only one political party. Totalitarian government can prevent its people from doing anything (and I do mean, anything), including leaving the country.
This explains why about 300 000 people have escaped North Korea in the past 10 years (as of now, approximately 2 000 000 ethnic Koreans live in China, maybe more.), and I am not even talking about how many have died, have been killed, or worse, before these lucky ones managed to escape.
Totalitarianism basically means, that this country can be ruled by only one person, or, in other words, this one person or a party holds absolute control over everything.
Country’s population is completely excluded from the political process, and any form of dissent is met with force. North Korea is one bright example of today’s totalitarianism (the other one was Soviet Union, ruled by Joseph Stalin).
Documentary tells a shocking story of human tragedies, of how the whole country began suffering from practically everything, thanks to their leaders.
In 1995 North Korea asked for international aid, because people were simply dying of hunger. Millions of people died, due to famine and food shortages since 1994. As the whole film is spoken in Korean, there were subtitles, and one particular dialogue almost made me cry (really), and it went on something like this:
“First, when people realized there was nothing more to eat, they started selling their things, like electronics, dishes, furniture, to get food. When there was nothing more to sell, they started selling their houses. No one was stealing, as there was NOTHING to steal…”
This is not some fancy science-fiction tale. This is reality of North Korea, folks. This is what’s happening there even today. Kim Jong-Il turned the whole country into a chain of concentration camps, where people would get killed (correct: publicly executed) for slightest mistakes. The army of the country suffered as well, as high-ranking officers, and plain soldiers escaped as well.
One of the escapees: “They say, there’s no God in North Korea…”
Other topics, such as sexual slavery, compromising facts about Kim Jong-Il, and religion are covered in the film as well. There’s not enough of real footage of North Korea in the documentary (probably my only disappointment in the whole film), but I can understand that – it would be really hard to get a permission to shoot something there.
This is a perfect example of how people of one nation, one culture can go different ways (North Korea and South Korea) with absolutely devastating consequences.
The interviewees in the documentary say, that if “this situation in the country” continues for another 10 years, the whole country will be dead – I can agree with that, since the situation there is simply catastrophic.
There were some scenes, that were truly scary, scarier than some horror movies that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot. Imagine thousands of people on a parade, with all these flags, singing, praising the man (Kim Jong-Il), whom they all hate, fear, but still praise. That is scary.
Anyway, to sum things up – if you get a chance, watch this touching, brutally honest documentary. It is depressing, yes, but its also true, and it hits you where you less expect it.
This is as close as “real life horror” can be. Recommended. To get you warmed up a little, watch the trailer below.
BZFILM SCALE: 7/10
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