Film-maker warns West not to lose sight of citizens

DRESDEN: For Sung-Hyung Cho, the ordinary citizens of North Korea are all too often forgotten by the West.
The South Korean film-maker believes that the new economic sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council on North Korea may have been necessary to exert political pressure, but they damage the hope that many citizens in the North still harbour for the future.
“More and more windows are closing,” Sung-Hyung, who lives in Germany, said. “Only humanitarian aid is currently still possible.”
Sung-Hyung was the creative force behind My Brothers and Sisters in the North, a film released last year that aimed to dismantle stereotypes of daily life in North Korea through interviews with the country’s engineers, soldiers, farmers, painters and seamstresses.
The time she spent in North Korea with “normal” citizens gave her a glimpse of their living conditions and desires — even if the interviews all had to be approved by the regime of Kim Jung Un.
These regular citizens should not be forgotten in the escalating rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington, she said.
“I don’t believe that all North Koreans stand completely behind the leadership,” she said. “They definitely represent a different opinion — they just can’t officially say that.”
According to Sung-Hyung, who currently works as a professor at Saarland’s Academy of Fine Arts in south-western Germany, the effect of the UN’s restrictive measures on public opinion could be quite damaging.
The intensification of sanctions will not encourage North Koreans to doubt their own leadership,
Sung-Hyung said, but will rather strengthen their resistance to the Americans.
North Koreans are very curious and interested, she said, and that is why it is important to maintain contact with them in a variety of ways — including cultural exchange. — dpa

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