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Project of the Day: A North Korean Defector

Project of the Day: A North Korean Defector

Here’s your daily dose of an indie film in progress; at the end of the week, you’ll have the chance to vote for your favorite.

In the meantime: Is this a movie you’d want to see? Tell us in the comments.

“The Defector: Escape from North Korea”

Tweetable Logline:

Watch the biggest quest on film – North Koreans on a dangerous 3,000 mile trek to freedom, with the help of an int’l underground railway.
Elevator Pitch:
The Defector follows ‘Kim’, a North Korean fugitive, and several of her young friends as they journey across Asia on a quest for freedom. There are roughly 300,000 North Korean fugitives who have escaped North Korea and are in hiding today. Helped by a network of aid workers, some will manage to find safety. Follow our team as we film this incredible modern day underground railway as they help transform these people’s lives. This film’s got a lot of heart, and it’s got guts. We need your help for our next production trip.
Production Team:
Producer/Director: Ann Shinn
Editor: Manfred Becker
Animation Director: Rob Pilichowski
Associate Producer: Sherry Barrett Boguski
About the Production:
“A North Korean refugee explained to me: ‘You need a little evil in your heart to survive my country.’ It’s poignant coming from a woman who witnessed her neighbour’s children die of starvation. Escape from a Communist country to arrive in a free country, and realizing you can live a life with food for every day, and with the freedom to choose: milk or orange juice? Jeans or jogging pants? Even the most mundane of decisions bring tears to our subject’s eyes. It’s been really moving to meet and work with people who have come through such an incredible journey.” — Ann Shinn
Current Status:
In production.
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Du Li

This is gonna be a strking movie about the North Korean escapees! I definitely look forward to the release of the movie! Recently, I have watched a lot of videos about North Korea and how badly people have suffered there, making me feel so sorry for them to be born there. To me, I think people who really repsect the leaders of the country must totally be brainwashed or act out. Therefore, I love to see a movie about how the North Korean escapees really felt when they were in the country, how they made the trip out successfully and what they are going to do after getting their own freedom. Best of luck to the filmmakers!!!!

Sang Kim

My grandfather and I were very close. I visit his grave religiously every month since his passing in June 2001. I spent many weekends with him sitting silently in his government-subsidized bedroom, staring out the window onto the street three floors below. Falling snow especially deepened that silence. I remember the winters with him very well. There was always a distinct feeling of homesickness during that time. My grandfather missed his family, his hometown, his feeling of closeness with geography and community. In the winter of 1951, he had fled his home, 2 hours north of Pyongyang, desperate, and in search of a job- of anything- to help support his family. He reached Seoul in January 1952, through a passageway not available to most of the less resourceful in the North. He was a defector. In 1953, while the DMZ fences were being designed by American (and Canadian) officers across the waist of the country, my grandfather dug graves and fed pigs, hoping to reunite with his family. He would not know till the very day he died that you would never set eyes on any one of them again.

I love the living moment of this film in my own personal life. There is, in the poetry and the characters and the will-toward-freedom that speaks the contemporary colloquialism of my grandfather's own anguish and experience.

Thank you, Defector Team, for telling a story about today that echoes through the generations of my own family.

Wish you much luck.


Friends and supporters, if you are on Facebook, please take a moment and vote for us to be Project of the Week: Voting closes Monday December 5th. Thank you!

Eva Stachniak

The project sounds fascinating. These stories of escape and displacement are poignant in many ways–instructive from both points of view, the person who escapes, and those among whom they find themselves. I am looking forward to this film!!!!


This is really fascinating, and I would definitely want to want this film when it's finished. I just watched the North Korea episode in the Vice Guide to Travel series, and man, talk about a bizzarre experience. I feel very sorry for the North Koreans.


This film sounds really interesting, and I would definitely want to watch it when it comes out. This issue has always been addressed and shown to raise an awareness in South Korea, but not many people get the reality and people don't realize or understand why they would risk their lives for freedom from their own country.
It would be a really great if I can be any help to those people….


Wow, this sounds really interesting~ I would definitely like to see this. I am in South Korea now teaching English to adults; it would be great if my students can watch it~~


Sounds pretty interesting. I would totally see this film.


Saw the video on kickstarter. Unbelievable story to be told. Any chance it will be shown in the states?


This is a great way to address the issues of North Korea today. I know many families who have escaped, so this film would hit touch me at heart. Looking forward to seeing and sharing it with others!

George Emerson

This is a great idea for a cinema verite narrative thriller. Timeless plot of the escaping slave/innocent prisoner. It's a wonder no one in the USA has thought of doing this before, given how North Korea is the antithesis of everything democratic and freedom-loving. Anyone escaping this virulently anti-American regime should be a hero for all Americans.


brava! sounds like a brave and courageous film, can't want to see it.


So, when do we get to see this doc? looking forward to it . . .

Cathy Marie Buchanan

So looking forward to this.


Looks fabulous–can't wait to see it!


I really want to see this.


Looks amazing. What a great combination of unusual film techniques and truly compelling story.


yes, cant wait to watch it….an important film with a what seems like a very compelling story.

Mike Cohen

An important story that needs to be told. I very much look forward to seeing it.

Ron Schur

Looks very compelling. Looking forward to seeing the movie.

Tom Cavan

a compeling story, I am looking forward to the release…….

Peter Mosher

This sounds like an important movie to me. Anything that helps people escape regimes like north Korea will save lives.

rachid filali

Excellent work


What an amazing looking project! I'm so excited to see the finished product.


Any ideas on when this film comes out? I have a friend who is alive today because his parents made it out!

Jonny Bunning

Awesome project! I'm blown away by the visuals for the interactive component. Look forward to seeing the complete movie & exploring the content online.

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