Many North Korean refugees live in hiding in the Chinese
border city of Yanbian.
In August, 2002, LEE Jun, one of these refugees, came across
the Japanese journalist ISHIMARU Jiro.
Lee spoke on camera for the first time, frankly describing
his reasons for escaping North Korea.
LEE: I fled across the border with my family,
carrying my dying mother on my back. It was because of hunger.
There was nothing to eat but weeds.
My children were just skin and bones.
When I saw that they couldnft even stand, I realized that
if we were going to die anyway, we might as well die after
a last spoonful of rice than to die hungry. So I brought
them to China.
Having come in contact with a foreign journalist for first
time, Lee realized he should take matters into his own hands.
He learned from Ishimaru how to use a PC and video camera.
He made a firm determination to become a journalist and
tell the world the truth about North Korea.
Thus, Lee crossed the Tuman-gang River and returned to his
In July 2004, Lee Jun captured his first footage.
ISHIMARU interviewed Lee Jun.
Q: Why do you continue to take these hidden videos?
I have a strong belief that I have to do something.
At the moment, Ifm alone. But maybe my actions will cause
a spark that will lead to change in North Korea. Even if
Ifm caught and labeled as a gnational traitor,h Ifll admit
Ifm working for democracy. Ifm not against the North Korean
system alone, or just Kim Jong-il as a person.
is for democracy, where everyone can live live equally.
Ifm not someone yelling about how bad our leadership is.
I know it is dangerous to make these hidden videos.
What I hope to do eventually is make videos I can bring
into North Korea that provide outside information to people
who know nothing about the world at large.
North Koreans are not even aware their human rights are
being violated. They just do whatever the state orders them
I want to wake up our ignorant people.
By gathering the right information, I want to show them
what gross violations of human rights they suffer. Thatfs
what I want to do the most.
What would you like to tell the world about North Korea?
I want everyone to see a true picture of our peoplefs
real, unvarnished lives. As I work I try to convey the true
state of North Korea as it is today.
For example, just how many people are packed into train
cars, or how they are supposed to sleep there. Or how and
what we eat. I want people to see even the smallest details.
What Ifve filmed so far shows merely a small glimpse of
our peoplefs lives. Itfs probably not even one tenth of
what I want to show.
from inside North Korea, Jiro ISHIMARU