This candid 2005 documentary deals with the suicidal journeys of North Korean defectors who flew to China’s borders. They assailed an "underground railroad" called the Seoul Train and in the process, documented a gripping story in the North Korean refugees’ fight for their lives and their freedom. The heroes in the documentary wanted to get out of North Korea, which they considered as the “world's largest prison camp." After they successful entry into the Chinese border, then would then be hunted by the avid Chinese police authorities. They would face near fatal consequences once they have been captured and violently repatriated to North Korea. This is because escape from their country is considered as treason. This is punishable by death.
Seoul Train explores the complicated geopolitics behind this potentially deadly humanitarian dilemma. I believe that the main goal of the documentation is to expose the violence and the abuse of certain governments in the way they handle their own citizens. They integrated personal footages, individual stories and interviews with government officials and experts in order to stress the violations of humanitarian and international laws by the North Korean government. In a sad way, it decries all the injustices and call upon international bodies such as the United Nations to act on this very brutal exercise on refugees.
Apart from a few sickening scenes shot secretly in North Korea, most of the program takes place in China, where we meet groups of refugees awaiting rides on an underground route to safety. One of the most welcoming destinations is Mongolia, which has a reputation for treating North Koreans humanely before helping them reach their ultimate destination in democratic South Korea.
The main goal of the video is to depict the real horror of escaping North Korea and moving inside the underground trail, whose capture means torture, execution or death. It depicts the state coercion which a regime inflicts on its own people who already resolved to end their miseries in their own country. It decries the pageantry of the leadership in North Korea by showing how the refugees, particularly women and children, are being brutally violated in their regime (Heffernan, p. 1).
There are various biases however, since the depiction is used by western countries such as the United States to emphasize the evils of the North Korean government. The documentary heralds a massive grave in the discreet walls of North Korea. This suggestion is rather biased. However, it is also valid. The documentary also shows some shifting of blame – from the North Korean government to international institutions such as the United Nations high commissioner for refugees to the Chinese police authorities, among others.
The major contradiction to the readings, as depicted in the video, is how the Chinese authorities mishandle the captured refugees and the brutal force by which they are returned to their home country. While this is a lured line, it is more formal to believe that legal and just means are reinforced. The video reinforced the idea that brutality and violence are the main process in repatriating refugees.
The main strength of this documentary is its truthful depiction of the real occurrence in one instance of the refugees’ escape. If I would direct this video, I will emphasize how and why the Chinese government does not accommodate the successful refugees. The video reinforced my grim reality of communism and socialism and how this social order is not functional and contradictory to the human will and freedom.
Heffernan, V. Tales of North Korea's Underground Railroad. The New York Times. December 2005. Accessed on 18 November 2012 < http://movies.nytimes.com/2005/12/13/arts/13heff.html >.