The Washington Times Reviews “Crossing”

Avoiding the melodrama of many South Korean films, “Crossing” is relentless in its detailed, docudrama approach. A cross-border trader and his family are seized by secret police in a midnight raid. Ragged orphans beg in destitute markets. Camp guards kick a pregnant woman in China in the stomach.

Kim Tae-kyun, the film’s director, said he did not retain Mr. Yoo, a high-profile defector, as a consultant for fear of creating a political incident while filming in China. Last year, Mr. Yoo was imprisoned there for four months after assisting North Korean defectors. Half of the film’s proceeds will go to help North defectors, Mr. Kim said.

Read the rest here.  Hat tip to a reader.

I’ll be interested in the South Korean street’s reaction to this,  but for obvious reasons, my outlook is absolutely bleak.  South Koreans will not flock to this film regardless of its artistic merit.  South Korea doesn’t even seem to operate in the same  rational and moral universe as I do.  Nothing can jar South Korea from its impenetrable selfishness, its denial of  what is  indisputable, and its  blind acceptance of urban myth as scientific fact.  One day, they will say they did not know, but to the extent they care even then,  they will find a way to blame someone else.


  1. My only concern is that some of the Chosun Ilbo staff actually engage in drug trafficking and human smuggling on film.


  2. Tuesday Greetings Joshua Stanton,

    As ever you are at it, doing your part to ensure that the ongoing mass crime north of the Imjin is at least partly in the light of day, at least for those in this world who are not willfully blind.

    I fully appreciate your disgust with the “impenetrable selfishness” of “South Korea”. Perhaps I paraphrase a defector to free Korea a while back who observed “the people here got a pile of money and then became blind.” Even so, I propose that the reality is not uniform blindness by the entire people of free Korea, as opposed to some other reality for Americans or others. Rather, in Korea, the people who see themselves as the nation’s rightful mandarins, the liberal arts and social sciences professoriate, instinctively resent the primacy of practical businessmen in a determinedly capitalistic society. As teachers, they inculcate their malleable young charges with hatred of the ethos of free markets and especially of its fountainhead, the US of A. The current “beef” frenzy is illustrative. Keep the students charged with this nonsense, that they not wander off and soon concern themselves with the plight of their brothers to the north, and the reality of why the north is as it is. After all, the Kim family regime is to be sheltered, as it ideologically opposes the philosophical ethos in the south which denies the 교수님들 their rightful place at the top of the social pyramid. If Koreans in the free part of the country are endangered by defective merchandise, the danger most likely comes from mainland Chinese sources. But that would never be a subject of concern of the professoriate, as at least the philosophical orthodoxy of the ruling party in mainland China is Marxist, and thus congenial to that extent. But the Korean media, allied to the professoriate, will never give fair attention to those many Koreans who are aware.

    Americans cannot wholeheartedly condemn the entirety of free Korea for the willful blindness, for the same currents that obtain in Seoul also flow freely in the US of A. If you were to try to prompt campus awareness of the all that you so well publicize on your site, the same liberal arts and social sciences professoriate in this country would condemn you as a “conservative” seeking to set back the cause of peace and amity in northeast Asia. For them, the innumerable victims of the Kim family regime do not exist, any more than for their opposite numbers on Korean campuses. Ditto the mainstream media here, closely philosophically allied with the professoriate. Indeed, the executives of the New York Times would far prefer being venerated mandarins of a “public service” entity, beholden to no one but themselves, rather than remain having to worry about shareholder concerns and other capitalistic details.

    There are millions of Koreans in the free part of the country, as well as millions of Americans, who are to a lesser or greater extent very cognizant of the aching evil north of the Imjin. But they will not successfully confront it unless and until they confront the problem ensconced on campus. When the like of the very successful candidate Barack Obama could deny that there could be any problem with his friend William Ayers, since after all he is a college professor, then the extent of the blindness even in this country is highlighted.

    Anyway, through thick and thin, with fools and knaves apparently everywhere, still keep at it.


  3. Mr. Millar,

    I think you’ve ably diagnosed a three-part large part causation that contributed to the rabid behavior of the South Korean public: 1. the traditional veneration for the intelligentsia that is unmatched anywhere perhaps in the world (not even in France!); 2. that this intelligentsia is, like the intelligentsia in all times and at all places, is overwhelmingly Leftist; and 3. that this Leftist intelligentsia has finally, post-DJ, captured the major organs of media and even political power.

    I am less clear on your prescription, however. What do you mean by your claim that we ought to “confront the problem ensconced on campus”? A counter-propaganda war within the universities itself? If so, I am skeptical it would do anything; the intelligentsia has been what it has been at least since the pre-Socratics, dreaming up fatuous, utopian schemes that have no relations to the real world.


  4. Wednesday Morning Greetings to Mr. Won Joon Choe, to our host, and OFK community,
    Much appreciate your own very able contributions to this board. I share your skepticism about any counter-campaign on campus, given the inherent hot-house nature of the place. I do believe that due awareness of the defects of the ivory tower, in the USA and also in Korea, can spawn more rational and socially/politically beneficial action, but most likely based elsewhere than in the cloistered halls of academe. In my small way at home I offer an alternative view to some of the ideological assumptions in my middle-schooler’s social sciences text, assumptions traceable to “truthiness” in the university.
    There have been rare times, both in Confucian-culture countries and in Christian-culture countries, where scholars and their students have played a crucially beneficial role in national life. The resistance of the seven University of Göttingen professors to Ernst Augustus’s tyranny in Hanover in the late 1830s comes to mind, and as well the prominent role of students in the political evolution in free Korea in 1987. It is most regrettable that they are totally, willfully absent from the struggle to lift the deadly thralldom of the Kim family regime from northern Korea. Should it be partly blamed on a kind of “Stockholm Syndrome”, induced by the presence of “12,000 artillery tubes” just north of the DMZ?
    In the unified, free Korea of some years hence, when questions are in the air everywhere, asking “what did you do to help when we groaned in tyranny?” what then will be the reputation of the scholar class?
    In this country, one can do his part by supporting organizations such as the Korean Church Coalition publicized recently by Mr. Stanton, in their work.
    Many prayerful thanks to Mr. Stanton and to each OFK reader for whatever each is able to do.


  5. In response to Mr. Millar good morning as well and always I appreciate your comments on this forum.

    In regards to campus culture, I am not very confident that much can be done to change the University culture in Korea much less the United States. I can remember when I was attending college in the late 90’s and I had a humanities teacher openly praising the Columbian FARC terrorist organization in class and inviting in these extreme left wing people to speak on campus. I was attending one of these speeches and I had my ROTC class that day so I was wearing my uniform and the anti-capitalist communist speaker called me a Nazi after I challenged him during the question and answer phase.

    I took it up with the university’s dean and this guy was blacklisted from visiting the campus again but the school still had to pay the guy’s speaking fee of $5,000 which was ironic considering he was anti-capitalist. But this guy was making thousands speaking on college campuses for all the left wing professor inviting him.

    Then in class I received lower grades then other students for simply disagreeing with this professor. I had people in class tell me they just wrote what the guy wanted to hear in order to get a good grade, but this guy in my opinon was not teaching but indoctrinating. Once again I complained to the dean but nothing ever hapened to the professor and he still teaches at my old university to this day.

    I think changing campus culture is a near impossible task in America much less Korea. Where I think things can change in Korea is in the elementary and high schools where the government has a bigger say in what is going on. The KTU types are indoctrinating kids at a young age with anti-US and pro-North Korean propaganda. It seems if teaching standards along with a revamped educational system to teach critical thinking instead of emphasizing memorization skills, could in effect better prepare students for the leftist campus culture they will experience in college.

    As it is now, it is sad to see supposedly educated college students on the streets of Seoul claiming they are all going to die from mad cow disease despite all the evidence that shows this is all a sham. If they can’t even figure out the real story in regards to US beef we have no hopes of this crowd ever coming to terms to what is going on in North Korea.


  6. GI Korea says,

    “I think changing campus culture is a near impossible task in America much less Korea. Where I think things can change in Korea is in the elementary and high schools where the government has a bigger say in what is going on.”

    I agree fully with this view. And I reiterate that what made anti-Americanism so virulent in Korea the last decade is not that the universities are Leftist, but that that Leftism went totally unopposed by other elements that shape public opinion–indeed was aided by those elements in Leftist indoctrination.