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Dear Pyongyang

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Dear Pyongyang

  • Japan
  • 2006
  • 107 minutes
  • Documentary
  • Asian
  • History

For only $2.99

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Yonghi Yang is one of nearly a million zainichi, Koreans living in Japan. Beginning in 1959 and lasting 20 years, many zainichi, even of South Korean nationality, left Japan for North Korea as part of a widespread repatriation movement inspired by North Korea’s economic growth and the promise of Korean reunification. These returnees have never been allowed to leave.

Three of those who went were Yang’s brothers, sent in the 1970s by their father, the leader of the pro-North movement in Japan. Yang documents several family trips to Pyongyang to visit her brothers, now grown and with families of their own, who survive in large part due to supplies shipped to them from Japan by their parents, who remained there along with Yang.

Despite his sons’ poor living standards, Yang’s father remains staunchly loyal to North Korea, an ideological dilemma for Yang, who struggles to comprehend why her father broke apart his family and wishes to officially change her nationality to South Korea. Though he reproaches his daughter for what he considers her disloyalty to his life’s work, over the ten-year filming period, his steadfastness gives way to indications of regret and a willingness to compromise.

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