Playing Frisbee in North Korea
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Called “The Hermit Kingdom,” North Korea is an enigma wrapped in a quagmire of misinformation, international distrust and fear. In the middle of this are the people of North Korea, isolated from the world by their own government. Are they “puppets” of the North Korean government that many claim, or everyday people trying to live their lives and support their families under the strain of chronic malnutrition, deprivation, and total control by their government? In truth, they are both. Even under such hardship, they are fiercely proud of their country and have an abiding, and even religious fervor for the Kim family, rulers of the tiny kingdom for over 65 years.
PLAYING FRISBEE IN NORTH KOREA is the first documentary from inside North Korea produced and directed by an African-American female filmmaker. Through verite’ footage interviews with N. Korean refugees, long time aid workers, scholars, and experts, Savanna Washington provides an authentic, on the ground perspective of the lives, struggles, and humanity of the people of North Korea.
The North Korean people are as enigmatic to the world as their government. Crossing the bridge into North Korea from China, the country seems trapped in time. Each family is under constant surveillance by the “People's Unit Head,” a person responsible for 30-50 families to make sure of their loyalty to the regime. Any small breach or disparaging word against Kim Jong Un or the Kim family dynasty can result in being put in brutal forced labor camps along with their families. North Korea has a three generation rule – three generations of a family pay for the “crimes” of the “criminal.” The crime can be as small as calling Kim Jong Un fat. For North Korean refugees, “SooJin” (name changed to protect her identity), Mrs. Kim Young Soon and others, this was their accepted landscape. In this environment, filmmaker Savanna Washington manages to capture some of the daily life in North Korea by shooting undercover in prohibited areas. Under constant watch by minders, including Mr. So, who becomes a character in the film, the minders determinedly work to keep Savanna's group separated as much as possible from everyday North Koreans.
Produced by Savanna Washington and Aardvark Alley Films. Production years 2012-2018. Copyright 2020.