The fictional story of a CIA plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un triggered a cyber attack against Sony Pictures, and led the US to bolster sanctions against the secretive state. But what have North Korean defectors made of the film?
Lee Han-byeol, 31
In North Korea, where I used to live, there are no comedic films. There are only education and propaganda movies. Films are made for the sole purpose of inculcating faith in the Kim family and idolising the father and son. But this movie employs comedy in treating the heavy topic of a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
In the film, [the main protagonist] Dave Skylark is warmly received by Kim. Skylark sympathises with Kim at first, but changes his mind after discovering a fake grocery store.
In fact, there are no fake grocery stores in North Korea, but the fake store represents something very real. The North Korean government never allows foreigners to see the miserable reality of some North Korean residents. They are guided to the spots designated as ‘good places’ for publicising North Korea as a ‘wonderful country.’
I was also moved when Skylark confronts Kim during his interview: “Why don’t you feed your people?” If the subtitles about this question are delivered to North Korean residents through this movie, then they can be hopeful, because that means their pain and hardship are known to the world.
The third most impressive scene is the one where Kim is finally killed in the helicopter. Recently, Kim flying a plane has been a great issue to North Koreans, and it is intended to show he is such a stout-hearted leader.
The scene of Kim’s death is significant. It could give hope to people suffering from hunger and despair in North Korea.
I hope this film will encourage people to pay attention to the actual conditions of people in North Korea. I will also try to help my friends, who watched foreign movies secretly with me when we were young, see this movie.
Lee Han-byeol lived in the city of Hungnam in North Korea. She escaped in 1999 and arrived in South Korea in 2002. She is now studying for a Masters in Korean Unification Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul