New footage of defiance from North Korea

January 16, 2014

By Lee Kyung-min

A smuggled footage taken by The Frontline documentary “Secret State of North Korea” from the American public broadcaster PBS shows that many people in North Korea are not so subservient as thought, CNN reported Wednesday.

A North Korean woman, an owner of private bus service, standing up to a government soldier who tried to shut down her business on grounds that it's illegal. (Courtesy of CNN)

A North Korean woman, an owner of private bus service, standing up to a government soldier who tried to shut down her business on grounds that it’s illegal. (Courtesy of CNN)

“We saw lots of examples of people standing up to authority in ways that we hadn’t expected,” Director James Jones told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

He added one of the most dramatic pieces of footage was of a woman, who had set up a private bus service using a pickup truck.

“This soldier comes and tells her to stop running this private bus service, which is illegal,” Jones said. “And rather than, as you would expect, saying, ‘I’m so sorry,’ and apologizing, she stands up for it . I mean, literally chases him off down the street, smacking him on the back, calling him every name under the sun.”

Victor Cha, a former Director of Asian Affairs for the U.S. National Security Council, and an expert on North Korea, said that it is often women like her who are starting to open up North Korea.

“I love that. That was one of my favorite parts of the documentary. The irony is that those markets didn’t grow out of economic reform. They grew out of the failure of the North Korean economy to provide for its people,” he was quoted as saying.

With the possibility of the contact with ordinary North Koreans extremely limited, Jones said he decided to use some strings.

“We teamed up with a Japanese journalist, Jiro Ishimaru, who has this incredible network of ordinary North Koreans across the country,” Jones said. “They film secretly using hidden cameras, and then smuggle those footages out across the China border where Jiro waits for them.”

“They’re just cracks right now, just small ones,” Cha said. “But like a dam, once you start getting one crack they start to filter out and you start seeing many, many more.”

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