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DMZ Project Fund



HANA KOREA

Frederik SØLBERG

  • South Korea, Denmark
  • 90min
  • DCP, mov
  • color

Personal&POV Social&Human Interest Sports War&Conflict Hybrid documentary

Synopsis

”HANA KOREA” is a hybrid documentary about running the highest risk and making the biggest sacrifice in the pursuit of happiness. 
It is a character-driven story about the transformation from being an oppressed citizen in a dictatorship to becoming an individual seeking to find freedom in a hyper-modern capitalist society. 
The film follows Hyojin, a young North Korean refugee, from the moment she arrives in Incheon airport, during her interrogations at NIS, during her time at the Hanawon educational center, and as she subsequently begins life in her new home country.
Hyojin is a stranger arriving in a country that is both ahead and behind the rest of the world: a hyper modern competitive society struggling with high suicide rates, stress, and low fertility. At the same time South Korea is a conservative country where tradition rules, social status is everything, and with a huge divide between rich and poor, young and old. 
This is the reality Hyojin escaped to and has to learn to navigate in; a consumerist high tech society moving forward at top speed. How does a North Korean adapt to this? How does it feel to be a North Korean in South Korea? Is Hyojin able to create her own identity? Can she let go of her past?
Like most young people in South Korea, Hyojin is trying to create a future for herself. This is not easy in a country with high expectations, high demands, and competition. Hyojin is studying, working, and making friends. She is trying to integrate and become a part of a society that doesn’t always appear as if there is time and space for someone like Hyojin. On top of that Hyojin is facing challenges that are far beyond what her South Korean friends are dealing with; her family are still in North Korea, her father is disabled, and her mother is severely ill. She is trying to earn money and smuggle it to her family in North Korea. At the same time, she is carrying a heavy secret about her escape. A secret that could stigmatize and ruin her life in South Korea.
”HANA KOREA” combines both documentary techniques with cinematic reconstructions. What you hear in the film is Hyojin’s own story. What you see is a reenactment and cinematic interpretation of it.
Hyojin risked everything to get to South Korea.
Was it worth it?

Does living in a liberal country actually make you free?

Director's Statement

In 2010 I visited South Korea for the first time. 

In the first restaurant I walked into, I met two men who had taken part in Memorial Day. They told me about the separation of Korea and what it meant to them. Talking about it clearly touched them.

I have always been fascinated by Korea and finally being there and listening to their stories inspired me to dig further into the culture and history of Korea.

This led me to this project.

In 2015 I visited Korea again to do a radio documentary about the Hanawon Center and North Korean refugees in South Korea. Everyone I met was very welcoming and interested in my project. They were curious about why a stranger like me would come all the way from Denmark to tell this story. It gave me the impression that some parts of the complex story of the North Korean refugees remain untold. That there might be a need for a fresh and foreign perspective.

The general focus of the media regarding the separation of Korea is on the political issues between the two countries - or about Trump vs. Kim Jong-Un. Most documentary films being made are looking at North Korea. Maybe it is time to turn the camera and look at the country into which the North Koreans arrive? 

South Korea is a country full of paradoxes. A hyper-modern capitalist and democratic society struggling with typical modern issues like high suicide rates, stress, low fertility, and online sexual violations. At the same time, it is a country deeply rooted in its traditions and culture. 

How does a North Korean experience that?

Are they able to navigate this complex society?

Can they let go of the past?

Will they ever be happy in their new home country?

With “HANA KOREA” I’m trying to and unfold the paradoxes of South Korea seen through the eyes of a North Korean. It is my intention to give a rare insight into the destiny of Hyojin in her new home country – seen from the view of an outsider.

 

Director

  • Frederik SØLBERG

     

Credit

  • Producer사라 스톡만 Sara STOCKMANN
    오희정 OH Heejung