Archives / 2006 Sundance Film Festival

Dear Pyongyang

Director: Yonghi Yang

Screenwriters: Yonghi Yang

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival

Description

For many, North Korea remains an abstract, shrouded place. With few stories to draw on, our sense of how North Koreans reconcile with their "fatherland" is limited. Dear Pyongyang is a fascinating, poignant exploration by a Japanese-born ethnic Korean of her father's fierce loyalty, and her own resistance, to the North Korean cause.

As a teenager, the filmmaker's father, Mr. Yang, emigrated from South Korea to Japan. His experiences of Japanese occupation, Korea's subsequent division, and the Korean War molded him into a Marxist and self-proclaimed North Korean. Like many zainichi (Koreans residing in Japan), he dedicated himself to the vision of a unified, Communist Korea, leading a movement that championed Kim Il Sung. Then in 1971, in the ultimate ideological sacrifice, he sent his three sons—ages 14, 16, and 18—to Pyongyang, North Korea, forever.

Thirty years later, Yonghi Yang, his youngest child, raised with the privileges of modern Japan, lovingly probes her father about his radical choices. She films multiple trips to Pyongyang, offering unprecedented access to North Korean daily life and the painful realities of familial separation. Her playful sessions, at times antagonistic, reveal a man at once rigid in his beliefs and surprisingly accommodating to change. Unafraid to confront complexity, Yang crafts a father-daughter story of geographic and spiritual diaspora, and of political and personal devotion.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]