Dear Pyongyang

Yonghi Yang, director of ‘Dear Pyongyang’, answers a question in her Q&A from a self described filmmaker. Yonghi’s humility takes centre stage when, eventhough she spent 10 years making this poignant film, doesnot even see herself as a filmmaker and seemed surprised then she was called it.

by Shael Stolberg for Festival Products

Yonghi Yang tells the story of her father’s belief, mother’s commitment, a community’s strength and her path to understanding.

Dear Pyongyang is a very personal doc, which is engaging at one moment, historical at another and at times; heart wrenching.

It starts by Yonghi introducing us to her parents. They are North Korean and live in Japan. Her father takes centre stage and the banter that exists between the couple and their daughter is very engaging and at times down right funny. We find out these attentive, loving parents sent their three sons back to the homeland (North Korea) in the ‘70’s out of loyalty and belief in its ruler, Kim II Jong.

In some ways the film is Yonghi’ s cathartic release of year’s of living with her parents, especially father’s, unwavering belief in North Korea, its rulers and principals even thought it is obvious things did not turn out as expected. With the use of old footage and pictures we get a glimpse into Yonghi’s upbringing and connections with her family.

Her goal is to try and make her father understand her doubts about his beliefs and, on a practical matter, why she wants to change from a North Korean to South Korean passport.

In the end, not only does her father understand this but also he changes from telling her she only can marry a North Korean man to including a South Korean man to only wanting her to be happy. Throughout the film we see his regret and love for his country and family. The 10-year journey it took Yonghi to complete this film is definitely worth the wait.

Shael Stolberg is the publisher of this site as well as the International Film Festival Guide. He has moderated panels at different festivals including “Filmmaking Outside the Mainstream”, “Women in Film” & “ Film Distribution and Finance” as well as others at various festivals. He has also given seminars about film festivals and independent film at the REEL School and New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts in New York City and the Los Angeles Film School.

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