Director: Kim Dong-won

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


Kim Dong-won's epic film Repatriation explores the agonizing psychological and physical survival of long-term "unconverted" North Korean political prisoners in detention in South Korea and their quest to return home. The filmmaker first became acquainted with two unconverted prisoners in 1992. Both men, imprisoned for spying in the South, refused to denounce their communist beliefs and served out their full 30-year terms. Drawn to their stories and them personally, Dong-won subsequently filmed them for more than a decade. By the end of the 1990s, relations between North and South Korea significantly improved, and even the most hardened unconverted cases were released. How did these men survive the dehumanizing conversion process of systematic torture for more than 40 years? What awaited them in the outside world? And what was their final destiny?

Ultimately a story about the indomitable human spirit, Repatriation is an extraordinary chronicle of human drama in the context of political change, and a testament to those who stubbornly, and at tremendous cost, fight for what they believe in.

— Diane Weyermann

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards


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