Lifestyle: ‘Under the Sun’ documentary by Vitaly Mansky exposes behind the scenes of North Korea

(From Korea Times)

North Korea’s TV programmess always feature people speaking enthusiastically about their allegiance to the country’s “Dear Leader.” This prompted Russian documentary filmmaker Vitaly Mansky’s curiosity: is their allegiance sincere?

To get an answer, he and his film crew have visited Pyongyang, the capital, three times since 2013, hoping to learn what people really think. To try to get to the truth, Mansky carried out an in-depth interview and filmed the lives of Jin-mi, 8, and her parents, whom Mansky believed would give”candid and honest” opinions of their leader and state.

Jin-mi stands with her parents at her fictional home in Pyongyang. For the film, the family was forced to move to a clean and spacious apartment.

Jin-mi stands with her parents at her fictional home in Pyongyang. For the film, the family was forced to move to a clean and spacious apartment.

But the director quickly realized that he had been naive. “It was impossible to listen to their true voices in an official setting,” Mansky told The Korea Times in Seoul. “Because the North Korean authorities strictly controlled everything, including every single word they (Jin-mi and her parents) speak to us and how to react to our requests and questions.

“Everything was done in a tightly controlled and manipulated setting. We were not even allowed to talk with them during a coffee break.”

But such intervention did not derail his project. Rather it inspired the Mansky, 53, to pursue his original goal under cover. His team secretly filmed and recorded moments when the family did talk with their emotional guards down.

He also peeked into the house at night through a telephoto lens installed in his hotel room one block away from the house.

“I did the night shooting with my room’s light turned off and the lens barely poking through the curtain,” he said. Mansky then smuggled the unauthorized clips out of the North and produced a documentary titled ‘Under the Sun,’ laying bare the dismal reality facing North Koreans. Read More



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