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'Crossing' depicts the plight of North Korean defectors

2008/03/19 Source

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In recent years, Korean producers have been spending more on marketing, issuing all sorts of promotional material at every possible occasion to lift their movies' chances at the box-office. Strangely though, "Crossing", a film project started about four years ago, did not announce its progress.

At a news conference held on Tuesday in downtown Seoul, "Crossing" director Kim Tae-gyoon and lead actor Cha In-pyo finally disclosed the plot and some details of the film based around the politically sensitive issue of North Korean defectors.

In the film, Yong-su (played by Cha In-pyo), a North Korean living in a mining village in Hamgyeong Province, crosses the northern border with China to get food and medicine for his ailing wife, only to find himself on the run. His 11-year-old son (Shin Myeong-cheol) also risks his life to trace his father in China.

Shot in Korea, Mongolia and China between July and September last year, "Crossing" portrays the plight of North Koreans who are desperate to survive. It does so in a realistic manner aiming to raise awareness of the issue.

"This movie is about a man who faces poverty, violence and extreme control just because he happens to be born in North Korea", Cha said. "In the movie, my son is 11 years old, and I have a real son who is now 11 years old. When I was playing the role for the movie, I thought about the possibility that what I would do if my own child were sick and starving?"

Asked about a potential run for the forthcoming election, Cha said he did not have any intention to jump into politics, and the primary motive for joining the film project was his desire to help the starving North Korean children.

Director Kim Tae-gyoon said: "I hope there should be no misunderstanding about this movie in terms of politics, and the key issue is concerned with the essential human nature".

Kim said the production staff members had so far met more than 100 North Korean defectors, and that careful preparations have been made to reflect the reality concerning defectors without provoking unnecessary controversy.

Director Kim said North Korean defectors' organizations helped the project in many ways, offering detailed views about the situation in North Korea and lending photographs that were later used as references for the film.

Cha said he initially rejected the offer from director Kim. "At first, I just declined his offer partly because a film about North Korean defectors would not be welcome in the market. But afterward I happened to see a photo showing a starving North Korean child, and I cried a lot because I didn't do anything for so many compatriots who are suffering".

Cha, who is also widely recognized in China for his television dramas, is also serving as an honorary ambassador for a campaign against child abuse.

By Yang Sung-jin

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