In "Dear Pyongyang", Yang Yonghi tells the story of her family, a story that takes place between Japan and North Korea. In that film, the focus of attention was her father, who sent his three sons into the supposed socialist paradise in the 70s, tearing the family apart irrevocably in the process. "Sona, the Other Myself" shifts its gaze to the filmmaker's niece, who grew up in a society where there is no opportunity to make choices. As a young girl, Yang experienced the pain of having her older brothers stolen from her from one day to the next. She compares her own story, which has been marked by several different cultures, with that of Sona. Do her sporadic appearances in an otherwise insular world make life harder or easier for Sona? The rare family gatherings in Pyongyang, which the film lovingly observes over more than a decade, seldom come across as light-hearted, the impending farewell hanging over every outing, over every shared meal. There's something just as forced about using Japanese yen to buy ice cream and pasta in the North Korean Intershop as there is about the hymns to the great leader, which Sona is already singing as a small child. The film tells of the longing for a true common ground, whilst being aware that it doesn't actually exist.
by Yang Yonghi
Japan / Republic of Korea (South Korea) 2010