Jonah and I went to the screening of this film last night thanks to New York - Tokyo. It is a very good film and a tremendously tragic story. If you don't know about the Japanese families who lives were shattered by North Korea's abduction of their children, you must see this film. This film pays just enough attention to the big picture and all the families affected without straying from the main story which is the kidnapping of Megumi Yokota, a 13 year old girl from Niigata, Japan and her parents' continued search for her. The DVD is due out in September and hopefully the film will make it to the big screen here and receive the rave reviews its enjoyed internationally. In the meantime here's a trailer.
A few highlights [warning - spoilers below]:
- Former Prime Minister Koizumi does the right thing by withholding food and medical aid to North Korea for the acknowledgment and subsequent return of (some of) the victims they kidnapped. However he then appears less honorable when he faces the weeping father of Megumi and explains that while the abduction issue is an important one so is that of nuclear weapons. 'Abduction issue' is such dispassionate wording! I can't even begin to imagine how incredibly difficult being a politician must be.
- The sponsor of the film screening, ANA (All Nippon Airways), was also the airline that flew home five of the 13 abductees. After the film and before the Q&A session with the film directors, an ANA representative told us that his boss was on the flight with the returning abductees. His boss offered one of the abductees a cigarettes which happened to be the very popular Japanese brand Mild Seven. The abductee politely declined saying that he could only smoke cigarettes of his country - meaning North Korea. Keep in mind that this is a Japanese guy who was abducted from Japan in his twenties. More and more I believe the disturbing notion that most people can be brainwashed without too much trouble.
- According to witnesses, Megumi arrived in North Korea after a 40 hour boat ride, without fingernails. She never ceased crying for her mother nor scratching at the iron door of the tiny compartment she was locked in.
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