Hawaii filmmaker releases defector documentary - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii filmmaker releases defector documentary

Tommy Driskill Tommy Driskill
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In 2011, Tommy Driskill went to North Korea with his father. While sightseeing, he saw poverty and suffering.

"I cannot believe that in 2014, this place is still allowed to exist and hurt the 25 million citizens that live there," he said.

On subsequent trips to South Korea, the young filmmaker interviewed North Koreans who fled that country. The common thread was starvation.

"They just wanted to be able to have food on the table and feed their families," he said.

Driskill has produced a documentary called "Life as a North Korean Defector." The film focuses on three defectors: a young man who escaped through China and Thailand, a former North Korean prison guard whose family was locked up, and Yeonmi Park, a young woman who has become one of the most outspoken defectors from the communist country.

"They all bitterly hate North Korea. And they want to help start a movement that will eventually end in the collapse of the Kim regime," Driskill said. "I'm going to do everything I can to help them tell their story so that people around the world can know what is going on."

On Tuesday, Driskill returned to Hawaii from his latest trip to South Korea. He brought back enough material for a second documentary that will spotlight North Korean artist Song Byeok. He turned against the regime and fled. He was captured and imprisoned before he was set free..

"He almost died. He got down to 40 pounds," Driskill said. "We're talking about a grown man."

Driskill, 24, graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in Political Science. He has traveled to more than 80 countries. He believes his short films explain the economic hardships and human rights violations North Koreans face at home, and the difficulty defectors have of adjusting to life in South Korea.

He has this message for President Obama.

"It would be beneficial for even if it was just for a few minutes or a quick moment to express my perspective and my insight to you. And I would be greatly honored for the opportunity," he said.

You can watch Driskill's documentary "Life as a North Korean Defector" on YouTube.

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