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Sun Mu, a senior North Korean propaganda artist, escapes to the South and now uses his talent to make fun of the Supreme Leader through satirical political pop art. Offered a high profile solo exhibition in China, he could never have expected the hostility he would attract from the authorities. As he puts his exhibition together the forces against him grow. A tense narrative coupled with powerful imagery defines this unusual documentary.
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Liberty in North Korea (LiNK)
“It all happened very suddenly." A crowd of bystanders gather in the closed-off streets that surround an art gallery encircled by police cars, anxious to understand what the commotion is. Behind the gallery walls lies the first ever solo exhibition of propaganda-artist-turned-defector Sun Mu, who has fled from North Korea to Beijing in search of refuge.
As a young child growing up in North Korea, Sun Mu always had a burning desire to represent the unrepresentable. Artistically influenced not by other painters but instead by dictators, Sun Mu recalls locking himself in his room to paint a picture of Kim Il Sung. “Before it was even dry, I burned it.”
Years later, Sun Mu’s satirical political pop art has admirers, and when he is offered his first solo exhibition in Beijing he knows that he is dancing with the devil. His provocative work is sure to stir conflict with the authorities who are nervous of upsetting their sensitive North Korean neighbours.
As he looks over a painting of Kim Jong Il stood proudly in front of an upside down flag – a bold and blatant reference to a backwards nation - he remembers how his hands trembled as he painted: “I always had a fear that someone might sneak up behind me and stab me.” Sun Mu’s anxious wife, on the other hand, is kept awake at night by the fear of the family being taken hostage.
As the opening day of Sun Mu’s exhibition finally arrives, police and government officials turn up at the gallery in search of the man behind the paintings, ready to interrogate…
The film is a powerful portrayal of a man who searches for freedom while concealing his own identity in the face of an oppressive political regime.
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Every week Journeyman offers a brand new documentary, fresh out of the cutting room. They're award winning documentaries, some destined for the festival circuit and some for broadcast. The one thing you can know is that here you get to see them when they're fresh, often before they appear anywhere else. To watch them in full go to our VOD platform at http://jman.tv
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