R_NEX003Many 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 couldn't 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.
R_NEX002Having 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 home country.
In July 2004, Lee Jun captured his first footage.
ISHIMARU interviewed Lee Jun.
R_NEX006Q: Why do you continue to take these hidden videos?

LEE: I have a strong belief that I have to do something.
At the moment, I'm alone. But maybe my actions will cause a spark that will lead to change in North Korea. Even if I'm caught and labeled as a "national traitor," I'll admit this proudly.
I'm working for democracy. I'm not against the North Korean system alone, or just Kim Jong-il as a person.

My desire is for democracy, where everyone can live live equally. I'm 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.

R_NEX001North Koreans are not even aware their human rights are being violated. They just do whatever the state orders them to do.
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. That's what I want to do the most.

Q: What would you like to tell the world about North Korea?

R_profile004LEE: I want everyone to see a true picture of our people's 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 I've filmed so far shows merely a small glimpse of our people's lives. It's probably not even one tenth of what I want to show.


[Related:] Lee Jun Story/YouTube
Voices from inside North Korea, ISHIMARU Jiro

Rimjin-gang (English Edition First Issue) RELEASE NOTE
Editor's notes on North Korean reporters

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