Letters from Pyongyang

Ask me anythingScreeningsTrailerSynopsisPress & ReviewsFilmmaker BioProductionContactFacebookTwitterLinksShopGalleryNext pageArchive

See prize-winning documentary Letters From Pyongyang at Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois

Director’s Statement: Letters from Pyongyang is a film about family

Some people may have misunderstood what my intentions were as the filmmaker behind this project.  Of course there are obvious issues when tackling any subject based in the DPRK but my main goal and the focus always was to tell my family’s story from a personal point of view.

Letters from Pyongyang is not an investigative report about the inner workings of North Korea and I am not an undercover journalist.  It is not a film about North Korea – if you watch the film with this in mind then you will be severely disappointed and misinformed.  It is first and foremost a film about my family’s tragic separation from a personal point of view that is contextualized within Korea’s modern history - and partly takes place in Pyongyang as well as in Seoul and in Jeonju in the South.

The real tragedy faced by thousands of families remains the separation of loved ones and the urgency faced by so many who are now dying of old age waiting for a reunion. The purpose of my film was mainly to highlight this heartbreaking situation by sharing my family’s personal story - in a documentary short format nonetheless.  It really shouldn’t be so hard to see your family and I hope that those who have the good fortune of having easy access to their own families will take a moment to feel grateful and not take them for granted. I hope that all divided families will find peace and reconciliation some day. - Jason Lee


Al Jazeera Golden Award Winner - Aljazeera Int’l Documentary Film Festival - Doha, Qatar 2013
Best Documentary Jury Prize - Palm Springs Int’l ShortFest, Palm Springs, California, USA 2013

Special Presentation - Frontline Club & DocHouse presents an Evening of Shorts - October 25 7:00 PM Fronline Club, London, UK
Official Selection - Korean American Film Festival - October New York, New York, USA - Village East Cinema- October 26 2:30 PM 
Official Selection - Reel Asian International Film Festival - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - AGO Jackman Hall - November 6 - 1:00 PM
Official Selection - California Independent Film Festival, Moraga, California, USA - Orinda Theatre - November 8 - 3:30 PM 
Official Selection - St. Louis International Film Festival - St. Louis, Missouri, USA - Tivoli Theatre - November 19 5:00 PM

Official Selection - RIDM : Montreal International Documentary Festival - Montreal, Quebec, Canada 2012
Official Selection - Sapporo International Short Film Festival - Sapporo, Japan 2013
Official Selection - Off-Courts Trouville Film Festival - Trouville-sur-mer, France 2013

A filmmaker and his father embark on a rare personal journey to reconnect with lost relatives in North Korea. The film explores the tragic events of a divided family’s painful past that unfolded during the Korean War and the modern day quest for closure.

Media coverage: Australia’s Weekend Sunrise Channel 7, The Korea Times Los Angeles, The Montreal Gazette, Radio-Canada Deshautels, La Presse, The Desert Sun, The Qatar Tribune, KoreAm Magazine


Fessier on Film: Search sends duo on quest to Korea

The Desert Sun Newspaper article about Letters from Pyongyang and a discussion with filmmaker Jason Lee in Palm Springs

Montreal director Jason Lee returns from Palm Springs with another award for his collection

Liz Ferguson from the Montreal Gazette writes about Letters from Pyongyang and the Best Documentary Award from Palm Springs International ShortFest