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S. Korea's foreign minister says film on N. Korea makes him sad

All Headlines 20:22 May 20, 2016

By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) -- Stepping out of an auditorium in his office building on Friday, South Korea's top diplomat looked solemn, if not sad. He had just watched the documentary film "Under the Sun," which offers a rare glimpse into life inside North Korea.

"This current situation in North Korea, where human nature is suppressed and everything has to be practically acted out, is sad," Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told Yonhap News Agency, surrounded by hundreds of other ministry officials who watched the movie together.

As foreign minister, Yun has been at the forefront of Seoul's efforts to dismantle Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program through sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council.

But the ministry's ultimate task is to transform North Korean society with the help of the international community and bring freedom, dignity and human rights to the North Koreans, he said.

"Under the Sun," filmed by Russian documentary maker Vitaly Mansky, tells the story of Zin-mi, a North Korean schoolgirl who joins the art troupe Korean Children's Union ahead of nationwide celebrations for the birthday of former leader Kim Jong-il. As she goes through her everyday life, from meals with her parents to dance rehearsals, each step of the way is stage-managed by North Korean authorities.

For an 8-year-old, Zin-mi is remarkably composed throughout the entire duration of the film, until she's asked by its producers for her thoughts on joining the troupe.

Fighting back tears, she recites a poem full of praise for the dynasty of rulers leading from founding president Kim Il-sung to his grandson and current leader Kim Jong-un.

"In her endless tears, we see human nature," Yun said. "Through Zin-mi, we see the difficult lives of the North Korean people."

North Korea has long been accused of violating its people's basic rights to build a cult of personality around the Kim dynasty. Pyongyang bristles at such talk, claiming it is a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

Earlier this month, President Park Geun-hye also watched the documentary film after which she expressed hope the North would put down its nuclear weapons and look after its own people.

hague@yna.co.kr
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