July 29, 2021 13:33
A film chronicling the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother in broad daylight in 2017 premieres on Aug. 12 here.
"Assassins" details the final moments of Kim Jong-nam, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's eldest son, who was sidelined by his half-brother Kim Jong-un for the leadership of the reclusive state and was killed in a nerve gas attack at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
The documentary concludes that Kim Jong-un was behind the assassination and the two women who rubbed the nerve gas on Kim's face -- Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah -- were merely patsies.
Aisyah "was wearing a 'LOL' sweatshirt, so she looked like this very brazen femme fatale that was sort of laughing in the face of this political assassination," director Ryan White said.
White added that he too originally thought the women were guilty, but changed his mind after watching thousands of hours of CCTV footage and filming the documentary.
Since graduating from Duke University, White has made several documentaries about the Beatles, Holocaust survivors and the legalization of same-sex marriages. He won a director's award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 for his work on the HBO movie "The Case Against 8."
White explained that the most difficult part of making the documentary was trying to recreate the movements of the killers and obtaining the consent of the two women.
In May, the Korean Film Council refused to qualify the documentary as an art film, which would have made it eligible for screenings in arthouse theaters rather than multiplexes, where the competition is much tougher. The council claimed that it did not meet the qualification criteria, a move many saw in the context of President Moon Jae-in's desperate attempts to appease North Korea.
But after persistent efforts by the distributors, the documentary has now been cleared for arthouse theaters.
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