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Korean Titanic Amazes Moscow And Hong Kong Audience; To Be Exported to West

People’s Korea, 25 July 2001

A newly made DPRK version of Titanic is now drawing unprecedented attention and interest from non-Socialist nations of the world. The film Sara-innun Ryonghongdul (literally means Living Souls, and titled Souls Protest in English) was shown for the first time in an international film festival in Moscow held between June 21 and 30, together with four other pieces made in north Korea. A Russian newspaper reviewed the film by saying that it reminded people of James Cameron’s Titanic in light of its scale, the sophisticated scene of the vessel’s explosion, and a moving love story, and so on.

The 100-minutes-long motion picture was simultaneously put on the screen at a Hong Kong Film Festival held between June 27 and 29, amazing the audience. A Hong Kong film import company is reported to have signed an agreement with Pyongyang to import the north Korean feature film for the first time. South Korean daily Chungang Ilbo explained the reason by saying that it would be accepted by Hongkongites as a sort of commercial film and a much less ideologically-oriented one, and said that it was expected to be exported to the Western society including Canada and Europe in the future.

It is unique and something new. First, the movie was much costly produced compared to traditional north Korean feature films, for which some 10,000 extras were enrolled. Second, this is the first north Korean film in which CG technology developed by top engineers and experts in the country was introduced. Third, it is a criticism of Japan by way of an artistic form, fully representing a historical fact about a long-concealed tragedy of Koreans which took place 9 days after Korea was liberated from the 36 years of Japanese colonial rule.

The story is about the so-called Ukishima-Maru Incident. some 3,800 Korean expatriates in Japan were aboard the Ukishima, a Japanese naval vessel, which had been supposed to arrive in Pusan, a southeastern port of Korea, bidding farewell to their slave-like lives in the Japanese Archipelagoes—a suzerain of Korea. They included forced laborers, comfort women for the Imperial Army of Japan, and other survivors of forced displacement by Japan. They were full of joy, emancipated and bearing hopes for a freed Korea. The tragedy, however, took place the moment shortly after the ship had left a pier of Maizuru Port on August 24, 1945 as the vessel was bomb-exploded to sink inside the Maizuru Bay, north of Kyoto, Japan, claiming the lives of approximately 550 passengers.

Japan has long concealed the truth about the incident. Nevertheless, data and collected information on the incident indicate that the explosion was a plot concocted by the Japanese military leadership in an attempt to destroy its dark records on and atrocities against those Korean victims and survivors. The picture tells the truth.

This incident had been filmed in Japan in 1995 under the tile Asian Blue—the Ukishima-Maru Incident by a Japanese civic group. In north Korea, the story was novelized.

On June 29, a theater in Hong Kong witnessed consuls from both north and south Korea, media reporters, movie producers and buyers from different parts of the world, seeing the north Korean movie altogether. A reporter for the south Korean monthly Minjog 21, a national reunification-oriented magazine, quoted the president of a Hong Kong-based movie trader as saying: We have received orders already from three Japanese companies and, of course from South Korea, too. This picture is more than just an entertainment movie. I am going to take measures so that it may be distributed widely among Asian nations because it is valuable as a historical fact teller, said the first coordinator and agent in Asia to distribute the DPRK-made film to the rest of the world.

Earlier, in an interview with PK’s Pyongyang correspondent, the director of the sensational picture Kim Chun Song, who had repatriated to the DPRK from Japan, said: We did not make this film for the purpose of imbuing our people with anti-Japanese feelings. We produced it in a bid to inform many people of what had happened to our fellow countrymen in the past.

In fact, a number of north Korean historians and researchers cooperated with the scenario writer in his effort to further probe into the historical fact and collect all the relevant information available before this half-documentary film was completed.

This film does not exaggerate the historical facts at all, Kim said. We are very happy and pleased to have made it. I do hope that this film will be a help for Koreans and non-Koreans as well to increase their understanding of the untold history of Korean sufferings. It would also help Japanese draw a lesson from their history not to repeat the same history, he added.