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Repatriation (Hangul송환; Hanja送還; RRSonghwan) is a 2004 South Korean documentary film that documents the lives of unconverted long-term prisoners imprisoned in the South for more than 30 years. They were finally set free in the 1990s when inter-Korean relations improved, and repatriated to the North.[1][2]

Directed byKim Dong-won
Produced byKim Dong-won
Written byKim Dong-won
Ryu Mi-rye
StarringJo Chang-son
Kim Suk-hyung
Music byKim Dong-bum
Lee Ji-eun
CinematographyByun Young-joo
Kim Tae-il
Jung Chang-young
Jang Young-gil
Mun Jeong-hyeon
Release date
  • March 19, 2004 (2004-03-19)
Running time
148 minutes
CountrySouth Korea

It was presented with the Freedom of Expression Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, the first time a Korean film has ever been presented with an award at the prestigious U.S. festival.[3] It also won Best Documentary Award at the 19th Fribourg International Film Festival in 2005.[4]



When the unconverted long-term prisoners imprisoned in South Korea, were released after more than 30 years, they moved to Bongchun-dong, filmmaker Kim Dong-won's village. Kim developed a close relationship with them which eventually led him to the Repatriation film project, which spanned 12 years and 800 hours of videotaping. The film documents their views on Korea's partition, their daily hardships as they attempt to adjust to South Korean society as well as their struggle for repatriation. Through this intimate portrayal, Kim offers a penetrating insight into the tragic consequences of the Cold War that still persist in Korea.[5][6][7]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2004 Sundance Film Festival Freedom of Expression Award Repatriation Won
12th Chunsa Film Art Awards Best Planning Kim Dong-won Won
5th Busan Film Critics Awards Special Jury Prize Kim Dong-won Won
24th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards[8] Special Mention Kim Dong-won Won
2005 19th Fribourg International Film Festival Best Documentary Award Repatriation Won


  1. ^ "Repatriation screened with English subtitles". The Korea Herald via Hancinema. 7 April 2004. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  2. ^ "Repatriation Trailer - Third World Newsreel (TWN)". YouTube. 3 February 2011. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  3. ^ "Kim Dong-won documentary awarded at Sundance". Korean Film Biz Zone. 27 January 2004. Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  4. ^ "Repatriation Wins at Fribourg Fest". The Korea Times. 14 March 2005. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  5. ^ Yoon, Cindy (25 August 2004). "Kim Dong Won's Film on North Korean Prisoners Held in South Korea". Asia Society. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  6. ^ Foundas, Scott (23 March 2004). "Review: Repatriation". Variety. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  7. ^ Rham, Rufus de (4 October 2010). "Korean Film 101: Repatriation". Asia Society. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  8. ^ "Old Boy reigns at Critics Choice Awards". Korean Film Biz Zone. 26 December 2004. Retrieved 2016-01-27.

External linksEdit