Affecting Defecting

I think it’s pretty clear from my bulging Flickr account that I like to snap a shot or two.  It’s a hobby & fun to share a perspective from my very own view point.  The camera lens is playful, sarcastic & candid depending on my mood, yet what if your images told a bigger story to the world?

During Reel Asian this year I was hearing about some great projects coming together. One of which I’d accidentally encountered back in the summer at the NXNEi conference in a digital narrative panel.  The Defector (Movie) by documentary film maker Ann Shin sets out to tell the story of the thousands of North Koreans starving and those escaping the country’s prison camps & regime.  Interviews with refugees that made the journey through various countries for a better life are supported with a unique digital animations to show what only satellite images are able to witness from above.

From their blog I read about a  photo exhibit taking place locally, hosted at The Korea Times.  I decided to visit the event opening that also screened footage from, which while untranslated to English, contained striking images of suffering an violence.  After some introductions two people that fled & made it to Canada told stories of people in their towns committing suicide after not wanting to go on with life of ultimate hardship & starvation as well as the loss of family members, vanished in different countries with only whispers of sex trafficking for woman & intensive labour for men.  Even before the speakers were interpreted the vocal tones conveyed this release of distraught emotion.

The photos lining the wall showed a glimpse in to life there with the extremes of a lifeless body exposed on the ground, to stills from a beating being given by soldiers.  Illustrations of stories & dire conditions were also displayed alongside faces of malnourished children.  A traditional dance expressed hope and another side to the country as the event ended leaving a bubbling room of people in discussion while taking a closer look at the images.

Before leaving in to the freezing rain the DOSAAN Art Gallery in the adjacent room  gave me space to contemplate my evening.  The large open space presented sculptures inspired by nature in three different medium.  From sandstone, clay to copper each artists captured a different form.  The metallic memories of man seemed the most fitting to end the night.  Welded edges and traces of beauty almost rebuilt were parallel to the stories of life I heard next door.

Do you have a story to share or perhaps know of someone’s that you could tell on their behalf related to The Defector Movie?  Check out their Facebook app that focuses on the stories

You can also contribute to the 3,000 mile journey of hope by supporting their Kickstarter campaign by donating here.

Jon Bunning – @emaninTdot