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(Aug 31, 2010)
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Special Jury Prize
- Sundance Film Festival
- Asian First Film Festival
- Berlin International Film Festival
Dear Pyongyang received its North American premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Providing a rare glimpse inside the borders of North Korea, Yonghi Yang's deeply personal (EMRO) documentary presents viewers with a haunting and profound vision of one of the most isolated countries on earth.
The daughter of a leader of the pro-North Korean movement in Japan, filmmaker Yonghi Yang was separated from her brothers at a young age when they were sent to North Korea under a repatriation campaign.
As the economic situation in the North deteriorated, however, the brothers became increasingly dependent for survival on the care packages their parents sent to them from Japan. Yang's moving film records visits to her brothers in Pyongyang, as well as conversations with her father about his ideological faith, his unyielding devotion to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, and his feelings of regret over breaking up the family.
The impossible personal and political quandaries experienced by ethnic Koreans living in Japan find gentle, touching expression in Yang Yonghi's documentary. --Variety
Like Yokohama Mary, Dear Pyongyang focuses on something small but tells a decidedly larger story Here, a family portrait becomes a chronicle of Japan's community of North-Korean zainichi. Made all the more fascinating by the lengthy footage of daily life in Pyongyang. --Midnight Eye Best Films
Director Yonghi Yang has crafted a deeply personal narrative... this film is highly recommended. --Educational Media Reviews Online
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Years later the three mostly grown sons retuned to North Korea to live out their lives and have families. The father, mother, and sister visited eleven years later and then made occasional visits to the North. This shows their family life in Japan and then a trip to North Korea where the sons appear to live in a shoe box apartment. The mom constantly sends care packages. There is a 70th birthday party for the father which he essentially pays for himself. He has a collection of loyalty medals which upon closer inspection appear toy-like. Because the daughter is from Japan she does not have minders telling her what she cannot record. Insightful and surreal.
Warning, sad at end.