An outdoor screening of Kimjongilia (2010) was disrupted numerous times last Monday by 4,000 liberal opposition protestors outside of Seoul City Hall.
The screening was put together by South Korean university students trying to encourage citizens to save prisoners out of the North Korean prison camps. Some prisoners in particular that the students were protesting for the North Korean government to bring back is Shin Sook-ja and her daughters, who had been imprisoned there after moving there (to receive “free medical care,” which they were told as lies).
Kimjongilia is a documentary that tells the story of 12 North Korean defectors before and after they had escaped from from Kim Jong-Il’s dictatorship. I got the pleasure of meeting N.c. Heikin, the lovely director of the film in New York earlier this month. I had been wanting to meet her ever since I found out about the film, which traveled the film festival circuit from 2009 to 2010 (World Premiere was at Sundance).
The protestors at the screening tried to stop the screening by throwing water bottles at the outdoor screen and at the people who were supporting the event. By the third attempt to screen Kimjongilia, one of the protestors cut the electricity supplying power to the projector. They are still investigating the exact reason behind why the protestors decided to interrupt the screening, (which had been planned months ahead) but an article in the Joongang Daily News states that the brawl that occurred that night is living proof of the contrasting views of North Korea that still exists in South Korea today.
When told about the protest that occurred, Heikin responded on Facebook, “This is really incredible. I hope no one was hurt. I am amazed that so many more people would support KJI then condemn him. Unbelievable.”
Though chaos broke out, I give much praise and love to the 7 passionate souls who fought to expose the truth and harsh conditions that prisoners live through in North Korea and to N.c. Heikin for moving the hearts of people living thousands of miles away. If anything, this ruckus has encouraged to open more dialogue about the film and the issues of the prison camps, right?