This is from a newsletter that LUV Films has sent out. I thought it addressed many points raised here & share it with readers of the forum:
"I recently came across some criticism of the TONG-IL trailer in a martial arts forum and wanted to respond to it. I'm not a member of the forum so I couldn't respond directly, but I also wanted to share it with all of you. I feel that the poster of this message very much misinterpreted the trailer.
This is the original posting by "VDJ" that I copied and pasted here: "Have to say. I've watched the trailer several times and each time I see it I get the feeling of propoganda in favor of NK. Don't think I'll be seeing this film.
Lets start with Professor Armstrong from the Hate U.S first Columbia University. At 1:30 into the trailer, where he states that the U.S. is responsable for the North/South Divide (I guess the communist Chinese had NOTHING to do with it). Academia has a LONNNNGGG track record of distorting and re-writing history to fit their agendas.
Next lets look at Karin J Lee @ 1:40 into the vid about the strong education system in NK and how its ideas of the US and how un eductaed we are about NK except for sporadic headlines that portray NK as aggressive. EXCUSE ME? Did they not thumb their nose at the US and the world and test a nuclear weapon? Did they NOT just sink a SK sub? Are their NOT millions of starving people in NK? Sorry, this is NOT about TKD, it is about gaining sympathy for NK. Is this not the same guy that took over TKDT's magazine and stopped taking ads from ITF-C and will only print things submitted by them but supports ITF-NK FULLY? No, I will not support this propoganda film with my money."
Okay, so here we go.
First, I and LUV Films are independent of all parties mentioned by VDJ. Obviously, the film showcases the 2007 TKD Goodwill Tour and the performances of the North Korean TKD team - and they are undeniably good at what they do - but North Korean propaganda it is not.
Secondly, Prof. Armstrong precisely states, "The U.S. is one of the two parties responsible..." One of the TWO. So VDJ has misquoted Dr. Armstrong. Only short soundbites can be edited into trailers but he will, in the film, go on to say that the Soviet Union is the other party responsible for the division of Korea at the end of the war (and not the Chinese) as I have stated in the film's synopsis. Many of you know Korean history so this is not new. Dr. Armstrong is one of the foremost scholars on Korean history and has been featured in numerous major media programs about North Korea, which is why he was chosen to present a historical backdrop in our documentary. Additionally, in my personal defense of Academia: I would say that it is not academics, but mostly politicians that "distort and re-write history to fit their agendas."
Thirdly, Karin Lee states that the "strong system of education in the DPRK develops mistrust of Americans." VDJ has again misconstrued the words that were spoken. What she is basically saying is that through our respective educations and media outlets, they know little of us and we know little of them. Most people in the West don't even know that there is a "North" and a "South" Korea. She is not making the statement that either the USA or DPRK's education system is superior to the other. She is only making the case that our perception of one another may be different if we knew more about each other.
As far as North Korea's governmental actions are concerned, I can't speak for them. I don't personally condone the actions of their government, but it's necessary to be sensitive to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the population do not have a role in making policy decisions nor can they enter into those roles or play a role in influencing their leaders. I don't believe that I am out to generate sympathy for North Korea with TONG-IL. One of the intents of the film is to promote the idea of peaceful diplomacy between two nations which do not have diplomatic relations. And in this specific story, it's about GM Jung and other martial artists' efforts to do this through TKD on a non-governmental level. The 2007 TKD Goodwill Tour was not organized just to showcase the physical feats of the North Korean team but to allow the largest group of young North Koreans possible to tour the USA and experience that which their education system and media do not show of the USA.
Whatever VDJ's personal opinions of what TKD is "about" or his sentiments towards GM Jung is VDJ's own. But I will say that I have a great respect for GM Jung in the context of his biography and as it relates to the story of TONG-IL. Politics is part of the fabric of everyday social life. If GM Jung wants to use TKD as a vehicle for something he believes is positive for everyone involved, then that is his right. I fully support his efforts and wouldn't be making this film if I didn't think his efforts were with good intentions. I believe engagement with North Korea is the sensible way forward, despite how difficult it may be. If TKD is helpful in that process of engagement on the people-to-people level, then more power to those martial artists who want to build a more peaceful world. TKD is not just about kicking and punching, although that is a fun and useful component of the practice - it can be a way of life and a path of moral development if one chooses. As I have stated in the Project Background found on the TONG-IL website, I am not a practitioner but have been intimately involved in the TKD world for six years since we began this filmmaking journey. From my observation, like other forms of art, it can be a useful communication and community engagement tool if the artist wants to use it for such purposes. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that and just makes life richer.
The TONG-IL trailer, like any movie trailer, is edited to generate the most interest, emotion, and impact for the eventual film as possible. If it came off as utterly boring, then who would want to watch the film? So the fact that VDJ has responded emotionally is partially a good thing. But it's unfortunate that VDJ's emotions caused him/her to miss half of the content. Now if VDJ had stated, "Your documentary looks boring!" That would be fine with me and wouldn't warrant any further discussion. But when VDJ bases his/her lambasting on falsities, then it's necessary I point those things out so that other people are not unduly influenced.
If any of you have an opinion, whether you agree or disagree, shoot an email. But if you do, please keep it civil! Thanks for your time, have a great day!
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