Beyond Utopia: Escape from a totalitarian state


A new documentary follows the perilous ‘underground railroads’ defectors need to take to escape from a totalitarian state, The Guardian reports.

A regime that revels in its foul reputation internationally is not allowed to steal focus from the defectors in Beyond Utopia, The FT adds. Yet the film also brims with startling insights into the North Korean state. Brutal repression is expressed at once in concentration camps and rehearsals for the Mass Games, the public spectacle that once passed for kitsch when trips to Pyongyang were voguish with daring western tourists.

At the film’s core are a mother desperate to reunite with the child she was forced to leave behind; a family of five — including small children and an elderly grandmother — embarking on a treacherous journey across the Yalu River and into the hostile mountains of China; and a man of God on a mission to help these desperate souls. Leaving their homeland is fraught with danger — severe punishment if caught and possibly even execution — as well as potential exploitation by unscrupulous brokers. Family members who remain behind also may face retribution. Yet these individuals are driven to take the risk. RTWT

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