Home > Our Work > Raising Awareness > Strategies for Change > NKSC Speaker Series: “Kimjongilia” Film Screening + Q&A with Kim Youngsoon (April 28, 2014)

Film Screening: Kimjongilia and Q&A with former North Korean dancer Ms. Kim Young Soon

By Katty Chi

Kimjongilia

NKSC screened the documentary ‘Kimjongilia’ directed by N.C Heikin showing the stories of North Korean
defectors with different experiences and backgrounds. The documentary contrasted the adoration cult
propaganda and fabrication of a prosperous nation North Koreans lived against the degrading realities of
isolation, strict surveillance, and starvation they faced. Some of the interviewees included former military
officers, former political prisoners, victims of famines and artists. One of the interviewees was a famous dancer
and close friend with one of Kim Jong Il’s mistress. Kim Young Soon was an elite dancer in North Korea, and
due to her connections with the Dear Leader’s romantic affairs, was sent into the Yodok political prison camps
for seven years.

After the documentary screening, the attendees gathered into a small intimate circle around 80-year old Kim
to learn more about her experiences and stories. Kim first gave a presentation about her life explaining was
she was under the tutelage of Choi Seung Heui, the most renowned dancing figures of North Korea. She talked
about the luxurious life she was able to live as a member of elite society traveling to different countries for
performances. Nevertheless, due to her connections with one of Kim Jong Il’s mistress, her whole family
including her parents, husband, and three children came upon tragedy. Two of her children died, one of them through starvation and the other drowned in a flood. At this point, tears in her eyes began falling as she had to carry the dead body of one of her child in a sack. Kim mentioned the horrible conditions of political prison camps and that
the government must be brought down to bring justice to the North Korean people. Despite all her suffering,
she said that she was thankful for life and the opportunity she had to come to South Korea and enjoy living in
freedom.

Kim Youngsun 2

Participants of the series then began asking questions. One person asked how she viewed the regime when
she was a dancer in North Korea. Kim mentioned that she lived an affluent life of luxury and was asked to
dance in many important events for Kim Il Sung. If she hadn’t been sent to a political prison camp she would
have not known the cruelty and violent character of the government. Another person asked what she thought
about unification and if it was possible. Kim responded that unification would be beneficial for both countries,
particularly for South Korea as there are many special minerals in North Korea that can be extracted and used.
She said that the best way to bring freedom to the people would be through unification.

Many people were also curious to know how she had adapted to South Korea society. Kim mentioned that
because she lived an affluent life in North Korea, lived in China for a couple of years, and was able to travel to
different countries on tour, it wasn’t too difficult to adapt in South Korea. Nevertheless, she was always thankful
she was able to leave North Korea and have new opportunities to start a life her. Another attendee asked what
type of message she was giving to the people that she met. Kim commented on her experience giving lectures in
different schools in South Korea and in universities abroad. She said she was always surprised to see how many
people did not know of the realities of North Korea and how she would like to encourage all of the young people
to work for the advocacy of human rights.

Kim Youngsun 3

Kim Young Soon had many stories to tell however speaker series session came to an end. Everyone enjoyed the
opportunity to have such a moment in such an intimate environment to ask questions directly about life in North
Korea. Kim Young Soon, despite her age, will continue to work passionately and diligently for North Korea
human rights.