What On Earth Is True About It?: The Documentary Film Even Seen By President Park

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Lee Dong-hun(Lee): Hello everyone, here comes the 'Go by the common sense' section.

We'd like you to examine whether the news about North Korea are following the common sense.

Now let's start it over with reporter Mun Kyeong-hwan.

Mun Kyeong-hwan(Mun): Glad to see you again.

Lee: Me too.

So what is today's topic?

Mun: Today, we are going to talk about Russian Documentary film 'Under the Sun' that even President Park had watched.

Lee: I guess when a President watches certain movie, it is generally considered to have certain political message through it.

Isn't it?

Mun: It is so.

It is reportedly confirmed that President Park has invited North Korean kids defectors to watch the film to encourage them to regain hope for their lives, most of them who earn a meager living in South Korea.

She suggested to people that the country take care and embrace them.

Lee: Which implies that North Korean Kids are having no dreams and lives with happiness.

Mun: That's right.

Even the Minister of National Defense and the Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff have attended this meeting as well.

What's more is that after the watch, they have considered the film to be even used for the moral education for general soldiers.

Also, Saenuri, the ruling Party has screened the film.

Lee: Feels like the film is certainly a kind of Anti-Communism film.

What's this film about?

Is it about North Korean Kids?

Mun: This documentary movie, directed by a russian film director Vitaly Mansky had been filmed during his stay in North Korea.

He had lived together with a 8-years-old girl 'Jin-mi' to include her routine with her family, friends or neighborhoods.

However, the director realised that the girl's routine was ultimately fabricated by North Korean government, which later led him to redirect the film to be an accusation film against the government.

Lee: So you mean, he just went there to film, who has later realised 'the real state of North Korea', right?

Mun: It is so.

But before we further talk about it, there are two important things we have to point out.

Lee: I wonder what are they.

Mun: First, what do you think a documentary film for?

Lee: In my case, documentary record what really is in reality.

Mun: Correct.

However, treating a reality doesn't directly mean the truth.

A documentary depends totally on a director, who must have his personal view.

The film 'must be' edited and then developed through a certain point of view and that is what documentary is.

Think about this case.

An interview can be 30 minutes originally but has to be edited to be included into a full movie. Then a director select the phrases that he thinks they suit for.

Lee: Where arises 'Edit by devil'.

Mun: And it happens actually.

So if a director bears a bad point of view, the interview goes awry, just the opposite from what interviewee intended for.

Do you know a big documentary film covering a farmer and his cow?

Lee: 'Old Partner'(2008)?

Mun: Yeah, there were controversies around the edit of the film since it had too many interventions.

Even one of the critics has judged it "a drama film mobilized by laymen".

Though movie professionals point out that there are not even a documentary without editing, it remains to which extend the edit can be intervened as a controversial question in this field.

Lee: Then consequently it is ambiguous to confirm whether is true or not a documentary film because those are 'movies' as well.

I remember that the documentary films by a famous 'Michael Moore' crossed between documentary and drama film.

Mun: There are even drama films made based on documentary form.

A SF film 'District 9' is the on among them.

Lee: So you suggest to consider 'Under the sun' based on this point of view, right?

I guess to which extend that the edit can be intervene seems like a crucial point to truly understand documentary films.

Mun: Right.

In the beginning when a russian film director requested to film the country, the Government might have taken it a chance to promote their system, which is common in every country.

I think there's no need to criticize the it.

However, being a country with so many 'so-called-tourists' with hidden cameras in their bags trying to film North Korea in a mere attempt to criticize, the country must have been really sensitive about him.

Lee: As the editing is determined by its director and it could be applied to this film.

I've heard that North Korea has directed the movie in production process.

However, the director Mansky claimed that North Korea has fabricated the set-up, and things seem pretty much wrong if it's true.

Mun: If what Mansky said turns out to be true, like changing parent's job or house, it is wrong.

However, what point of view that North Korea bears should be consider beforehand.

What if they have such a point of view that those set-ups don't matter in documentary?

Then the situation could be a simple conflict between a director and the country caused by different positions.

Lee: Alright.

I guess let's wrap this up since we can't analyse North Korean Film Theory.

And let us move on to the second point.

Mun: What person Vitaly Mansky is what matters.

If North Korea had trusted Mansky, it would have guaranteed him to film on his own or if it had not been so, there must have been troubles.

They could have thought "What if he had intend to criticize us" I suppose it is just possible for North Korea to think sensitive.

Lee: So I've searched him on the internet and found out he is a jewish Ukrainian origin director.

Mun: Right.

If you search further through some media interviews, you can easily find that he is anti-socialist.

For example, "I've had tremendous interest how communism society refrain and suppress people's basic rights such as freedom and human rights" he said in an interview with VOA(Voice of America).

"So I've been to one of the communism country in the worlds, Cuba to film 'Motherland or Death'(Patria O Muerte)" he added.

And he concluded that socialism countries suppress human rights and freedom.

Lee: Yeah, I think it is free to have different kinds of views on some matters such as national freedom or human rights.

But what it's interesting is North Korea had allowed an anti-socialist director to film the country, A man with a history of filming anti-communism movie in Cuba.

Mun: That's what exactly I thought, too.

Being a famous director, he could've been detected(?) his anti-communism history.

So I've studied the process a little and found such things as follows.

According to an interview with Guardian, a british media, the team for Mansky had been allowed to film after a contract with North Korea, on condition of giving the right of the scripts in North Korean government, to which Mansky had agreed.

Lee: Then, The North Korea is a co-director of the film with Mansky taking charge of directing, filming and editing is what they had made contract for.

It is supposed that North Korea had drawn a guideline for a 'anti-communist director'

Mun: However, in terms of the process, Mansky has violated the contract since he had filmed with hidden cameras without scripts.

Russia has therefore called it into a question.

Mikhail Shvydkoy, a former minister of Ministry of culture denounced him for lying to North Korea government, a co-producer, and pushed him to be shamed of what he had done.

And a senior Aid for Putin had rebuked him as well.

Furthermore, Russia Ministry of Culture had even requested Mansky to eliminate its name from credit title.

Lee: Then how about Mansky's claim that North Korea had intervened the directing?

Isn't that a violation of the contracts?

Mun: Whether to determine it as an 'intervention' or 'involvement' on the directing can be interpreted differently depending on what contract they had made.

If there are provisions for the allowance for 'involvement' by North Korea, it is possible.

And the opposite, the same.

Lee: I guess we have to also finish this here since we can't take even a bit look of the contract.

By the way, as a anti-communist director he depicted the experience in North Korea negatively in an interview.

Do you know any of it?

Mun: There are apparently things in discord with the 'fact'.

About North Korea News papers, he said there are only 3 news which is wrong.

And that it is prohibited to carry or possess News paper when you leave the country is wrong.

'No kiss scenes, never! in North Korean Movies' is wrong as well.

That people in North Korea had the mere idea of the living, ignorant of other people's lives in the other countries, said that North Korea people couldn't even make a word of what they had thought in their mind are also inconsistent with what other foreigners testimonies, except for the possibility that the people he met during the time could be like that.

Lee: I guess it happened because of the prejudices he had.

Mun: I've read an article on the Facebook by professor Vladimir Tikhonov in terms of the prejudice.

Lee: You are talking about professor Park No-ja.

Mun: Rather well known for Park No-ja in South Korea, he has pointed out that Being a 'fundamental liberalist' with orientalism, a director could feel that North Korea as a 'hell', which is a mere 'ignorance'.

Lee: 'Orientalism' is a term to indicate the prejudice that Western society objectifies Eastern Society in an attempt to control and suppress them, leveling them down to inferior existence, right?

Mun: Right.

In this context, prof. Park critisizes him for his ignorance.

He pointed out that "Were it otherwise countries such as China or Japan, Mansky, without even a knowledge on Asian Society, must have been condemned straight. However, when it comes to North Korea, everything is possible to talk about, even gaining popularity when the story goes horror."

Closing his opinion, he asked us back to redeem whether the proposition that the that considers everything that is in discord with USA-related is 'evil' is 'evil' or not.

Lee: Wow, such a harsh criticism.

Anyway, I guess we're out of time.

Could you wrap the whole things up again?

Mun: Before this news, I've come to think of one of the famous korean show, "Family Outing".

Lee: You mean a real variety program "Family Outing" competing against "1 night 2 days"?

Mun: Right.

The show was really gaining popularity just before the script spill incident, which later suffered from strong criticism.

Lee: Now I remember people venting angers against the show because the show turned out to be 'real variety' show with 'script'.

But I didn't give much attention to the case since I thought there couldn't exist a show without script.

Mun: Real variety programs or reality programs can't help having scripts or directing to some extend.

However the problem is that some people believed that there wouldn't be any scripts at all and that's where people started to feel disguised by the shows.

So I guess it is a question of to which extend should we recognize the directing and set-up and the conclusion can vary.

I guess there's no correct answer for it.

And I'd like you to consider controversies about the film in this vein.

Lee: Thank you for your kind explanation.


Translation: guest reporter Jang Jae-Hee   NKtoday21@gmail.com  ⓒNKToday

 

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