Filming the Human Costs of the Korean War

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 North Korea is known as one of the most secretive countries on earth for a reason, and the majority of documentary films about the world’s last Stalinist regime haven’t exactly been revealing. Too often, the films are from the viewpoint of outsiders, who are taken aback by Pyongyang’s reluctance toward cultural and personal exchanges.

But Letters from Pyongyang is a different kind of film in that it centers on the personal family story of Jason Lee, the Korean Canadian filmmaker who wrote and directed the film.

The 28-minute documentary recounts the journey of Lee and his father, Young Tae, who travel to North Korea hoping to reunite with the elder Lee’s long-lost family members. Lee’s father and uncle, Young Chol, are brothers who were separated in the chaos of the Korean War, but later kept in touch by exchanging letters. This faithful correspondence between Pyongyang and Montreal lasted for decades until 2007, when the letters from Young Chol suddenly stopped. Read more here.