Sounds like a must-see
Call it a Schindler’s List for North Korea. The difference is that the Steven Spielberg film debuted nearly 50 years after the Holocaust had ended. Crossing, which premieres today south of the DMZ in Seoul, depicts a tragedy that is still going on — a tragedy that despite its massive scale rarely captures the world’s attention.
Human-rights organizations estimate that there are tens of thousands of North Korean refugees in China, which refuses to let the United Nations help them. The lucky few make their way from China to a neighboring country and then, usually, to South Korea. The unluckiest escapees are captured by Chinese security forces and repatriated to the North, where they face hard labor in a prison camp — a death sentence for many — or are executed outright.
You don’t have to be familiar with this background to be moved by Crossing. The film follows the life of the fictional Kim Yong-su, a miner in the bleak northern reaches of North Korea, who leaves his family to flee to China in search of medicine for his dying wife. The title refers to “crossing” the Tumen River, which separates the two countries.
After Chinese police nearly capture Yong-su in a raid on the logging camp where he works, he hooks up with sympathetic locals who help him reach sanctuary in a German consulate. From there he is transferred to South Korea, where he hires a broker to help him get his wife and young son out of the North. He soon learns that his wife has died and that his son has been sent to a prison camp after he was caught trying to cross into China to search for his father. The broker buys the boy’s freedom, gets him to China and from there to freedom in Mongolia. I won’t reveal the ending.
As DH says, it seems unlikely because, while it is a movie about a horrific tyranny, it’s the wrong kind of horrific tyranny — the despotism that dare not speak its name, at least in Hollywood.
But one may always hope.