1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a screening event of the documentary film “Beyond Utopia” about North Korean defectors abroad at the MOFA building on November 6.
2. “Beyond Utopia” has won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Woodstock Film Festival Best Documentary and Best Documentary Editing Awards, and was also invited to the Busan International Film Festival. The film is praised for its vivid depiction of the actual process of defection and the pain of forced repatriation to North Korea.
3. Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin stated that just as protecting overseas nationals is a core mission of the Foreign Ministry and overseas diplomatic missions, protecting North Korean defectors abroad is a core mission of the Foreign Ministry and overseas diplomatic missions. He also hoped that today’s screening event would serve as an opportunity to further strengthen the Foreign Ministry’s efforts for the protection of North Korean defectors abroad, which can be considered another documentary.
4. In addition, Foreign Minister Park said that the North Korean human rights issue is a matter of universal values and an issue directly linked to the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula, and pointed out that the human rights and humanitarian situation in North Korea continues to deteriorate as the North Korean regime spends all of its resources meant for improving citizens’ livelihoods on nuclear and missile development.
5. Foreign Minister Park also stressed that the government of the Republic of Korea is accommodating all overseas North Korean defectors who wish to come to the ROK and making diplomatic efforts to ensure that North Korean defectors can safely and swiftly go to the destination of their choice without being forcibly sent back to North Korea against their will. Additionally, he commended the efforts of Foreign Ministry officials in charge of the protection of North Korean defectors and the process of transferring them to the ROK.
6. Particularly, Foreign Minister Park stated that the ROK government is seeking cooperation from relevant countries and raising its voice on the international stage, fearing that North Korean defectors would face severe hardships if they were forcibly repatriated to the North.
7. Sue Mi Terry, the producer of “Beyond Utopia” and former Director of the Wilson Center’s Asia Program, attended the event in person, and explained the significance of the film and called on the international community to pay attention to the North Korean human rights and defector issues. Sue Mi Terry, who has studied North Korea as a government official and scholar for 25 years, said that she felt a sense of urgency regarding North Korean defector and human rights issues while producing “Beyond Utopia,” and emphasized that the film reminded her that the North Korean human rights issue as well as the North Korean nuclear issue is important as a matter of universal values. Pastor Kim Sung-eun of Caleb Mission, who appeared in the film, also attended the event.
8. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to call for attention and support for North Korean human rights and defector issues.
By Nadeem Faisal Baiga
Source MOFA South Korea