[Movie] True North: A Shoking Anime Film That Shows the Horror of Reality (Director Shimizu Han Eiji)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

I will write an article about this movie/book

Three takeaways from this article

  1. I think the story itself is fiction, but the “world” depicted in the movie is based on true events.
  2. The environment of the forced labor camp where political prisoners and their families are held is extremely brutal.
  3. It makes you wonder how cruel and inhumane people can become, and if they can still show kindness in such an environment.

I was shocked again by the fact that this reality is happening in real time.

Self-introduction article

Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes used in this article are based on notes taken at the movie theater from movies in Japanese and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original movies, even if they exist.

It was a Tremendous Movie. It Made Me Shock the Fact that I am Living in the Same Era as the “North Korea” Depicted in This Movie

I deal this movie as “true story.”

It doesn’t mean that they made a movie by depicting past events as they were. If you watch the movie until the end, you will understand that the story itself is fiction because of its dramatic intensity.

But what’s important is that “the world depicted in this film exists on this planet at the same time that we are living,” and in that sense, I think this movie is undoubtedly a “true story.” In the end credits, the names of the North Korean defectors who likely assisted in the making of the film are displayed, including those who could not reveal their names, and their bravery is praised. Their existence can also be said to guarantee the “realness” of this movie.

We are either “unaware” or “ignoring” this shitty world. Of course, even if we know about it, it is difficult to do something specific. However, we should be able to play a part in “showing interest, spreading awareness, and amplifying it as a global voice.”

I strongly wish to be such a person as well.

Synopsis of the Movie

Yohan, a boy who probably lived a more affluent life than the average North Korean, living without any inconvenience in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. He is part of a four-person family with his parents and sister, and his father is of Japanese descent. The father, along with his comrades, plans to resist the state and the party without his family’s knowledge, but Yohan had no way of knowing such a thing.

After a while, Yohan’s father disappeared and his whereabouts were unknown. When Yohan asked his mother, she didn’t know either. Then suddenly, members of the party rushed into their home and told that Yohan’s father had committed a betrayal, and a search of their house began. Yohan and his family could only pack the bare minimum and were taken away on a truck with no idea of their destination.

After a long journey, they arrived at a forced labor camp for political prisoners and their families. Despite being just a child, Yohan remembered his father’s words and was determined to protect his mother and sister…

The Brutal Reality of Forced Labor Camps

The above content introduction is only the beginning of the film. It is safe to say that most of the film is dedicated to depicting the shitty reality inside the forced labor camps.

The forced labor camp is filled with such cruelty that one cannot help but sigh, “Can human being become this ugly?”

The guards impose harsh labor on the prisoners day after day. The prisoners are told that “only by working can they atone for their sins” and are forced to engage in brutal labor. Even if they get sick, they are not given medicine, and the food provided is minimal. Even if they die, their bodies are simply thrown away in a random place.

Meanwhile, the guards of the forced labor camp that confines “political prisoners opposing the state” are having fun by watching videos of South Korean idols. It is a crime to come into contact with South Korean culture, but the guards are enjoying it as if saying “we’re good.”

What’s even worse is that the guards choose “prisoners they like” and rape them. Of course, they don’t use contraception, and if a woman gets pregnant from the guard’s rape, she will be shot as punishment.

It’s nothing but despicable.

It must be difficult for a small number of guards to manage a large number of prisoners, so there are “prisoners on guard side” in the forced labor camps. They are in the same position as the other prisoners, but they take the side of the guards to manage the prisoners. They hit the prisoners who do not obey orders while smoking cigarettes, which are forbidden. They maintain their position by reporting on others, and take an attitude of not caring as long as they themselves can survive.

They are also sickening individuals.

If We were in the Same Situation, How would We Behave?

However, I also think we shouldn’t judge things based on common sense from a safe distance. If I were locked up in that terrible and atrocious forced labor camp, exposed to constant pain without a clear future, I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t become a “prisoner on guard side.” Or if I were forced to work as a guard in that forced labor camp, there is a possibility that, in order to protect my own mind, I might convince myself that “prisoners are not human” and behave cruelly.

“I can’t say for sure that I would never do such a thing.” That’s how much they are in an environment that is too harsh, crammed full of “the worst”.

In the movie, a landslide occurred during labor, causing massive damage where many prisoners were buried alive. “Prisoner on guard side” had previously appealed to the top of the prison, saying, “It’s dangerous and should be repaired,” but they didn’t listen at all. In other words, it can be said that it was an accident waiting to happen.

The prisoners who escaped the landslide damage naturally struggled to help their comrades seeking help. However, the top of the forced labor camp arrived by car and shouted, “Get back to your posts!” It means that if there is time to help their friends, work.

Anyway, you guys are disposable.

It’s too harsh. Of course, if they try to escape, they will be shot, and if youthey rebel, they will also be shot. If they are in such an environment for a long time, it’s natural to feel that we can’t be kind to others anymore.

And that’s why we can appreciate the greatness of people who can still be kind to others even in such an environment.

Those who share their meager rations with others, those who properly see off those who are dying even in a world where “death” is too common, and those who support each other even in the toughest situations. Such kindness is deeply permeated the body precisely because the environment is so harsh.

I don’t want to experience a world like the one in this movie. However, if it’s unavoidable, I strongly feel that I want to continue to exist as someone who can think of others and maintain their human rationality.


In the world, terrible things are constantly happening, whether they are widely reported or not. When such things occur, I admire people who can quickly provide support in various ways, whether by going to the scene or posting on SNS. However, I’m desperate to keep myself alive, so I find it difficult to take such actions.

I think there are many people like me who want to do something but can’t take action for various reasons.

At times like that, I try to think “just knowing is enough.” I believe that the more people who know about the “worst-case scenario,” the greater the possibility that the world will change, even if only slightly. With that belief, I will continue to do my best to “know” as much as possible.

How should we accept the “truth” that this film appeals to us and how should we live our lives based on it? I think this film makes us strongly think about that.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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