While They Watched

Using interviews, archive and observational footage, While They Watched draws on the power of hindsight. After hearing the tragic backstories of defectors who were first-hand witnesses to the brutality of the regime, the film questions the morality of the current inaction by regional and global powers towards the North Korean dictatorship.

Director Jake J. Smith compiles a collection of testimonies from former North Korean gulag soldiers and propaganda agents, ex-leaders of the ‘underground railroad’ through China, professors of Korean history, hardened activists, NGO leaders, and defectors who risked their lives to tell their stories hoping to free the minds of North Koreans. Testimonies are given in the past tense from the context of an imaginary future after the collapse of the regime. This gives the interviews a unique quality allowing contributors distance and clarity to better reveal key local and international players in the unfolding disaster, and what nations, institutions and individuals tried in an attempt to change the fate of the country.

The film carefully highlights the activities of certain defectors and activists, revealing underground activities largely unknown to the outside world. Their stories, the direct action many are using to impact the regime, and the threats they face, paint a frightening picture of life in North Korea.


Press Quotes

 
   “People are missing the bigger picture: the trauma people went through and the stress they suffered”, said Smith. It’s not a question of a hidden agenda, he adds, “when they tell their stories I think they truly believe them” -  The Guardian

“People are missing the bigger picture: the trauma people went through and the stress they suffered”, said Smith. It’s not a question of a hidden agenda, he adds, “when they tell their stories I think they truly believe them” - The Guardian

   “This worship of the Kims was reinforced in documentaries, films and shows broadcast by the single, state-run television station. The indoctrination starts as soon as you learn to talk” -  The Telegraph

“This worship of the Kims was reinforced in documentaries, films and shows broadcast by the single, state-run television station. The indoctrination starts as soon as you learn to talk” - The Telegraph

   “The documentary, which is set in the future in a fictional world where the Kim dictatorship has collapsed, mixes interviews and news footage to present first-hand witness reviews and provide tear-jerking testimonies on experiences with the regime” -  Groove Magazine

“The documentary, which is set in the future in a fictional world where the Kim dictatorship has collapsed, mixes interviews and news footage to present first-hand witness reviews and provide tear-jerking testimonies on experiences with the regime” - Groove Magazine

   “North Korea has fallen, or at least that’s what London-born director Jake Smith would have us believe. His latest documentary   While They Watched   has caused quite a stir amongst national and international press this week, and it is easy to see why”  -    Eastern Kicks

“North Korea has fallen, or at least that’s what London-born director Jake Smith would have us believe. His latest documentary While They Watched has caused quite a stir amongst national and international press this week, and it is easy to see why” - Eastern Kicks

 
   “The film stresses the abuses faced by North Korean defectors and people campaigning against the regime. Justice for North Korea founder Peter Jung is shown harassed by police in Seoul during an anti-N.K. protest, while balloon launches carrying information critical of Pyongyang and basic necessities are halted by South Korean authorities” -  The Korea Herald

“The film stresses the abuses faced by North Korean defectors and people campaigning against the regime. Justice for North Korea founder Peter Jung is shown harassed by police in Seoul during an anti-N.K. protest, while balloon launches carrying information critical of Pyongyang and basic necessities are halted by South Korean authorities” - The Korea Herald

   “NK Watch wants to introduce a new documentary on North Korean human rights which also includes an interview with NK Watch’s director, Ahn Myeong Chul. This documentary covers not only testimonies on North Korean human rights but also current and future view on North Korea"  -  NK Watch

“NK Watch wants to introduce a new documentary on North Korean human rights which also includes an interview with NK Watch’s director, Ahn Myeong Chul. This documentary covers not only testimonies on North Korean human rights but also current and future view on North Korea" - NK Watch

   “NK Watch wants to introduce a new documentary on North Korean human rights which also includes an interview with NK Watch’s director, Ahn Myeong Chul. This documentary covers not only testimonies on North Korean human rights but also current and future view on North Korea”    -  Echo 24

“NK Watch wants to introduce a new documentary on North Korean human rights which also includes an interview with NK Watch’s director, Ahn Myeong Chul. This documentary covers not only testimonies on North Korean human rights but also current and future view on North Korea” - Echo 24


Festival Info

 

THE TIDE EXPERIMENT POWERS THE FESTIVAL-TO-DATE RELEASE OF WHILE THEY WATCHED

This awarded documentary will now hit Italian audiences at the International Film Festival of Popoli and in parallel will be available on VOD. This release pattern is powered by the Festival-To-Date Stream of The Tide Experiment coordinated by a set of leading European companies: Under The Milky WayThe Festival Agency and The Film Agency.

Since 2012, The Tide Experiment has implemented innovative multi-territorial, Day-and-Date releases. The three previous editions involved 11 films coming from 8 international sales agents, more than 30 local distributors, 50 exhibitors, 40 film services suppliers, 20 VOD platforms, and 4 top film festivals, in more than 15 European territories. Since last year, the Tide Experiment has been exploring a new release scheme, The Festival-to-Date which releases 2 films per year simultaneously at key European festivals and VOD Platforms.

Italy
FESTIVAL DEI POPOLI 25 November – 2 December
28th November on VOD:
Itunes http://apple.co/2ggB59H
Google http://bit.ly/2gxWEoK

France
LES ARCS 10-17 December
12th December on VOD :
Itunes http://apple.co/2gcwq71
Google http://bit.ly/2flDpK0


Campaign Info

 

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”  -  Edmund Burke

Below is a list of ways in which YOU can get involved – immediately and effectively – to help alleviate the suffering of the North Korean people. This list is by no means exhaustive but we have tried to pinpoint the most useful websites and projects for you to get involved in.

Things you can do now:

Educate yourself on North Korean issues.

Raise awareness amongst others.

Donate/raise money to help rescue North Korean refugees.

Petition against China’s policy of Forcible repatriation.

 

Raise Awareness

Educate Yourself

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Liberty in North Korea have an excellent, user-friendly website that allows you to learn about the history of North Korea and its current situation. It also demonstrates multiple ways in which you can help. You can donate money that goes directly to their numerous projects, and there is an online shop with all proceeds going to the cause. 

http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org

One Free Korea is an excellent website with bountiful current information on all aspects of North Korea, written in a casual blogging style. It covers events, politics and all international relations concerning North Korea.  It also has information on the camps, news article on North Korea from across the world and detailed Google Earth imagery.

freekorea.us

Citizen’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR) is one of the most established non-governmental, non-profit organizations in South Korea devoted to improving the lives of North Koreans. It has a website full of information (you can also donate money on their website to help rescue refugees.)

https://eng.nkhumanrights.or.kr:444/main.htm

North Korea Freedom Coalition is a nonpartisan coalition formed in 2003 to work for the freedom, human rights, and dignity of the North Korea people. All the major NGOs in the USA, Japan and South Korea, as well as other governmental and non-governmental organisations are part of the Coalition.

You can find lots of information, recent news, upcoming events, news archive and various resources on their website. They also hold an annual North Korea Freedom Week.

http://www.nkfreedom.org/index.aspx

Excellent publications on the North Korean camps and the government’s politics that you can downloads as PDFs.http://www.hrnk.org/about/about-hrnk.php

At the bottom of this page we have also included a recommended reading and movie list if these are your preferred means of learning.

Other useful news organisation;

http://www.dailynk.com/english/index.php

http://english.chosun.co.kr/

 

Share this film!

Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about Human Rights in North Korea.

Hold fundraisers / street campaigns.

Host a screening of North Korea-related films.

Join in on National and Global North Korea Human Rights Protests.

Rally fellow students and community members to learn and take action.

Liberty in North Korea (LINK) have great information on their website about how you can help – from hosting events, fundraising and even starting your own Rescue Team.

www.libertyinnorthkorea.org – under ‘get involved’

Open Radio North Korea
Support the organisations that broadcast radio from South Korea into North Korea, where it is hoped that people can tune into the frequency. The North Korean government actively tries to prevent people from listening, by blasting loud noises on the same frequency so nothing can be heard.

http://english.nkradio.org/

Free North Korea Radio

You can donate through Standard Chartered Bank to keep it up and running.
http://www.fnkradio.com/

 

 

Donate Money To Rescue North Korean Refugees In China

There are many organisations that work extremely hard in very dangerous situations to rescue North Korean refugees from China, but they need your help. It costs around $2500-$3000 to rescue one refugee, with costs for basic needs, transportation, accommodation, rescue fees and resettlement support. Please see below for just some of the projects that you can support.

(On all the below sites, 100% of donations made go directly to rescuing refugees)

Liberty In North Korea (LINK) – LINK have so far rescued 265 North Koreans from perilous situations in China. You can learn about the process and read the refugees’ stories on their website. They currently have an ongoing campaign to raise $600k to save 200 refugees – please help! You can also start your own personal rescue campaign.

http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/rescue-refugees/

Campaign – http://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/nk-refugee-rescues/

Citizen’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR) spent approximately $95,000 helping 50 North Korean refugees reach South Korea last year. You can donate on their website to rescue even more this year.

https://eng.nkhumanrights.or.kr:444/main.htm

NKHR receive an overwhelming number of requests from North Koreans who are stranded in China, more than they can afford to help. In 2013, they set up a sister company called The Rescue Fund to help raise funds to rescue as many refugees as possible. 100% of donations go to rescuing refugees.

http://www.nkhrrescuefund.org/

Justice for North Korea (JFNK) do great work in rescuing North Korean refugees in China, and all money donated goes directly to helping refugees reach safety and maintaining a safe house for North Korea children in China.

http://www.justice4nk.org/en/donate/

North Korean Refugees is a non-profit organisation that raises funds to rescue refugees, as well as funds for food, medical kits and warm clothing for stranded refugees without a home. It also has useful information and articles on the site.

http://www.northkoreanrefugees.com/donate.html

Petition Against China's Policy of Repatriation

China’s current policy of sending refugees back to North Korea (with full knowledge of the persecution, execution or prison camps awaiting them) is a huge problem. We must put pressure on our governments to shame China and force them to create a safe passage for these people to get to South Korea or elsewhere., saving thousands of lives.

Justice for North Korea has started a petition online and need your support.

http://www.change.org/p/the-government-of-the-people-s-republic-of-china-end-china-s-policy-of-forcible-repatriation-of-north-korean-refugees-2

Letters – You can also write letters to your local, national and world leaders to give pressure for change and to give support to the North Korea people. On the websites below there is more information and letter templates that you can use, and we have tried to provide various addresses for the UK and US.

http://www.northkoreanow.org/take-action-now/

http://www.nkfreedom.org/Get-Involved/Support-H-R-1771.aspx

US – It’s usually best to send letters to the representative from your local Congressional District or the senators from your state. This link will take you to the US Senators, web sites and mailing lists –
https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

When addressing members of Congress you should follow this;

To Your Senator:

Dear Senator:

The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

UK – You can find a number of contacts on the government websites to address your letters. Keep your writing formal and to the point. If you would like a response then it is best to contact your MP.  You can find your MP on;
http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

To contact a government minister, find the relevant details on;
http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/government-and-opposition1/her-majestys-government/

If you would like to contact the Foreign Secretary then write to;

Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon. Philip Hammond, at King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AH.

To find addresses for different countries, the Internet is a wonderful resource and you should be able to come up with some answers after a quick search.

 

Recommended Books and Films

RECOMMENDED READING LIST:

Nothing to Envy : Ordinary Lives in North Koreaby Barbara Demick

Aquariums of Pyongyang : 10 years in the North Korean Gulag by Kang Chol-Hwan

North Korea : State of Paranoia by Paul French

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden (story of Shin Dong-hyuk)

Dear Leader by Jang Jin-sung

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

 

RECOMMENDED FILM LIST:

Crossing the Line
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0473181/?ref_=fn_al_tt_5

Escape for Camp 14
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2149190/

DPRK Land of Whispers

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2885450/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Talk To Each Other

Social networking and direct action.

When most people hear about what is actually happening in North Korea, they are appalled and want to help. Share what ever information you find here with people on Social Networking sites like;

Facebook

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