An American living in North Korea??? That’s right.

Many people still think that it’s unthinkable for an American to live in North Korea. Crossing the Line shows the exact opposite.

It is a 2006 movie uploaded in Youtube in 9 parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

This is a movie about an American Korean war veteran who, as a result of a lot of disappointments in life (bad childhood, cheating wife, too high expectations while in the U.S. army) decided to cross the demilitarized zone and spend the rest of his life in North Korea. It sounds impossible for an American to enter the Secret State, especially during the Korean war when one could have been shot dead just because of their different uniform (as it is in every single war). As you will see in the movie, four American soldiers had decided to do that and start a new life.


Watching the movie, one might assume at first sight that life in North Korea is not as harsh as the mainstream media make it look. James Joseph Dresnok – the most important person in the movie – drinks, smokes, looks like he eats regularly, doesn’t complain much, affords not to be infatuated with the Juche idea and the two dictators and appears to be very calm. He talks as if he is back home in the U.S. where there is freedom of speech.

However, take another look at the movie. I have watched documentaries about North Korea where there is at least one soldier, a man or a woman, with the journalist(s) and the cameraman and I doubt that Crossing the Line makes any difference in that respect at all. It’s out of question that this movie has already been watched and approved by the Dear Leader (who likes movies) despite his current condition. He must have looked at the movie as one that is going to let the world know how peace-loving North Korea is by accepting four of their enemies in its society where there is no prejudice unlike in the U.S. where people have zero tolerance toward the different.

Because of the movie’s expected checks there isn’t a single question about Dresnok’s opinion about the regime, such as what he likes and what he doesn’t like in it. If he criticized the regime, provided that such question had been posed, we wouldn’t see the movie and he would have probably been into trouble; and if he praised it, the movie wouldn’t sound trustworthy enough because no matter how long he has been there, he had spent his youth in the U.S. and therefore can tell the difference between the two cultures. He even drops a hint about that difference when he was explaining the change in his life during the first years there.

Nevertheless, I believe him more than I believe Charles Jenkins at least when it comes to the latter’s claims that Dresnok was beating him. Looking at pictures taken in North Korea where Jenkins is present he doesn’t look like he was having a bad time over there. In my opinion, one who was often beaten and had a bad time for several decades must at least have some kind of a facial expression where you can tell that he went through that bad time.

If you have already watched the movie, you know what I mean. Great job, Daniel Gordon.


Filed under Books, Movies and Analyses, Life, Politics

9 responses to “An American living in North Korea??? That’s right.

  1. Pingback: Bill Clinton’s role in North Korea both primary and secondary « Evolution is the key!

  2. Pingback: An American living in North Korea??? That’s right. (Part 2) « Evolution is the key!

  3. Richard

    Just watched the movie . That old boy was either telling the truth or a darn fine actor . But , need to remember they did train him for acting .

  4. Great observation! It makes sense, especially when you know that when you go there as a tourist or as a journalist you know that almost everything – if not everything – there is a fake. However, I still have the impression that he was telling the truth and Jenkins was “trying to save his ass.” I think that Jenkins himself knew that it would not be an easy way back to the real-real world facing charges.

  5. Jacob

    i wanna live in south Korea when im 18. north Korea would be nice because where there’s order and discipline there peace but you dont know if youll get shot. in college i live in foreign district of seoul but if get rich i wanna live in gangnam-gu

  6. What is nice about North Korea? Order and discipline is there for Kim Jong-Il, and not because they want to teach you responsibility or any other good habits. The entire country is about the Great Leader and the Dear Leader, regardless of what you think and what you want. In fact, a teenie-tiny questioning of the regime costs you your life and the lives of your beloved ones – particularly the gulags will be awaiting you if you don’t revere the two “gods.”

  7. Arthur Howard

    James Desnok did not defect during the Korean war.It was atleast ten years after that war(1962) that he took off for the North!

  8. Arthur Howard

    Perhaps technically the Korean War hasn’t ended but there is no current conflict(as far as all out war)since 1953!

  9. You are right, Arthur. Thanks for correcting me on this.

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