TALK TO MY SON
Sangsun Choi | China, South Korea, USA 2017 | 14 Min. | OmeU
Talk to My Son is a participatory documentary in which the filmmaker sheds light on the relationship between a mother, a North Korean defector, and her son in China. In the late 1990s, a lot of defectors escaped from North Korea because of the severe poverty. The most common escape route was through China, with destination South Korea. Kyung-hee had defected from North Korea and married a Chinese man to conceal her illegal residency while she lived in China. A lot of Chinese men would buy their North Korean brides by paying a broker around $500, but the brides didn’t know of the horrible situation until they arrived at their husband’s house. The marriage was one of the only ways for the North Korean women to be free from the threat of human trafficking. After Kyung-hee had started her unwanted married life with her Chinese husband, she lived a nightmare for several years. Her husband’s family treated her like a slave and forced her to be pregnant. Around that time, there was a false rumor that the expecting mothers would not be sent back to North Korea, so Kyung-hee also decided to deliver a baby in China like many other female defectors. Kyung-hee’s life with a newborn baby was filled with a lot of threats. Her husband's family told that her son couldn’t be added to the legal family registry because of her illegal residency in China, so he asked her to leave her son. She couldn’t endure the threat from the family and North Korea, so she headed for South Korea. Her son didn't know the reason why she had to leave him, and his family concealed her presence for a long time. Kyung-hee wanted to forget everything and start her new life in South Korea, but it was easier said than done. She tried to find her son through her friend’s help, but it was too late because the relationship with her son was broken. When she met him for the first time in China after thirteen years, he didn't welcome her and didn't know anything about her life in China.
Talk to My Son is about the story that Kyung-hee leaves a message that she didn’t tell her son in person. She wants to recover the relationship with him through the documentary.
I am a visual storyteller whose work addresses the distress and recovery that exist in our life and society. Making a documentary, for me, means to find out the story of vulnerable people with my eyes, ears, and body by immersing myself in the social circumstance of human life. I am inspired to make documentaries to give a voice to those who often go unheard.
- 15th Big Sky Documentary Film Festival 2/16-25/2018, Montana, U.S.A.
- 66th Columbus International Film + Video Festival 3/22-24/2018, Ohio, U.S.A.