‘Mrs. B, A North Korean Woman’ Director Talks About The Hardships During Filming And The North-South Conflict

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There is so much to learn about the life of a North Korean from these documentaries.

Hosted by the Korean Cultural Center (KCC) in the Philippines, in partnership with the UP Korea Research Center, seven documentaries hailed this year’s ‘DMZ Docs Film Festival’.

The film festival, which aims to send its message of peace, life and communication through documentaries, presented acclaimed films, such as ‘Mrs. B, a North Korean Woman’, ‘My Love, Don’t Cross that River’, ‘Planet Sail’, ‘The Emotional Society on Stage’, ‘Red Maria’, ‘Summer Days in Bloom’ and ‘Troublers’  during its three-day screening event at Cine Adarna, UP Diliman.

‘DMZ Docs Film Festival’ brought viewers’ consciousness into different stories of different people from different circumstances. It also gave new perspectives on the world, as well as the theme of a “window reflecting the eyes of meditation on the world.”

DMZ Docs

The Story of Mrs. B

Opening the film festival is ‘Mrs. B, a North Korean Woman’, directed by Jero Yun. The documentary follows a certain Mrs. B, who was forcibly sold to a Chinese farmer by her smugglers, leaving behind her family in North Korea. Fast forward to some years later, the smuggled North Korean woman has adjusted herself to a new life in China and succumbed herself to drug trafficking to support her family.

The film carried a sense of familiarity in it as viewers follow Mrs. B in her daily undertakings but also formed a distance with Mrs. B’s anonymity.

Jero Yun

‘Mrs. B’ director Jero Yun (middle) answers questions from the audience regarding his documentary. (Photo by the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines)

Director Yun revealed that the subject, whom he met in 2013 during the researching and writing of the script for a movie, wanted to keep her name hidden despite her willingness to share the story. Throughout the documentary, she was known as “Mrs. B” or “Madam B”, which coincidentally holds another meaning in the business she chose to partake in.

He shared that “Mrs. B” has seen the documentary during the Incheon Film Festival. It will also be screened in Japan, which his subject is aware of.

Yun added that filming was not smooth-sailing. The documentary took three years to make, as the production was struggling with its limited budget. It was also complicated, he said. Initially, he intended the film to be a fiction, but soon it actually developed into a documentary.

“Personally, I have many problems with this film. But after following Madam B and her companions, it has become very personal to me, because she reminded me of my parents,” he said.

Jero Yun

Yun shares his experience in filming ‘Mrs. B’, which took three years to be completed. (Photo by Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines)

The North-South Conflict

Director Yun also spoke of the North-South conflict, which has been present since the division of North Korea and South Korea through the 38th Parallel.

According to him, there have been many discrimination and propaganda against idolatry, specifically against North Korea. The documentary presented this through “Mrs. B” and her family’s life in South Korea, where they are usually tagged as “spies” until they prove their innocence.

Jero Yun

Yun opens up on the North-South conflict during his Q&A with the audience. (Photo by the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines)

An audio recording of a 12-year-old girl speaking of the war atrocities was also used by Yun in transiting scenes and time frames from China to South Korea. According to the director, he was surprised when he first heard it. It was from a contest among young people to make propaganda against North Korea, organized by a private organization.

“Our generations are born after the border was created, so we do not know what a ‘one Korea’ is like,” he said. However for Yun, talking or mingling with North Koreans is perfectly fine, adding that he could even share a drink with them. “But the system does not give it this chance,” he said.

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