Event: While They Watched


The All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea will host a screening of the documentary film ‘While They Watched’ on November 17th at 17:00 in Committee Room 17, the Houses of Parliament.

Using interviews, archival and observational footage, Director Jake J. Smith’s film draws on the power of hindsight and stories from former North Korean gulag soldiers and propaganda agents, ex-leaders of the ‘underground railroad’ through China, professors of Korean history, activists, NGO leaders, and exiles to question whether the international community has done enough to challenge the Government of North Korea.


According to Smith, who will be taking questions following the screening:

“The message of this film, and the questions it asks will hopefully touch a nerve with audiences. The defectors’ lives and stories are sometimes so dreadful it’s difficult to accept how this continues to be allowed to occur in the 21st century. We can’t choose where we are born. I count myself lucky to be born in a ‘free’ country and I feel it’s the responsibility of free peoples to help those who are powerless to help themselves.

After reading about North Korea in books, the media and from talking to people here in Korea, I knew I wanted to make a film about the country and it’s people. During my research deeper questions kept creeping into my mind about our relationship to the stories I was reading. The way I decided to construct this film pushes the boundaries of documentary filmmaking, without diminishing the seriousness and extraordinary courage of the activists and defectors who participate in the film.

The decision to set the film in the future was made to compel viewers to ask themselves what they can do today to relieve the continuing humanitarian catastrophe happening in North Korea. By the end of the film I want the audience to be inspired to help change the present, and create a better future for the North Korean people.”

Attendance is free and open to the public. The Houses of Parliament can be accessed via the Cromwell Green visitor entrance.