China Tries to Stifle Award-Winning Documentary

Director Reveals Secret Censorship Moves by Chinese Government

If China had its way, the documentary film ‘Seoul Train,’  would never be seen at a single international film festival.

Director-producer Jim Butterworth revealed recently that several festival producers had contacted him quietly with news that Chinese embassies were applying pressure to discourage showing of the Seoul Train documentary. The film reveals China’s role in sending North Korean refugees back to face punishment and even execution, and this exposure apparently displeases Chinese authorities.

Although most of the pressure was discretely applied through phone calls and personal ‘suggestions’ from embassy officials around the world, in at least one case a fax was sent. The document (shown below)  clearly reveals China’s desire to suppress the documentary, which has won praise and awards at film festivals around the world.

This concerted pattern of pressure tactics reveals much about the Chinese government’s intolerance of dissent.

With its riveting footage of a secretive “underground railroad,” SEOUL TRAIN is the gripping documentary exposé into the life and death of North Koreans as they try to escape their homeland and China.

SEOUL TRAIN also delves into the complex geopolitics behind this growing and potentially explosive humanitarian crisis.

By combining vérité footage, personal stories and interviews with experts and government officials, SEOUL TRAIN depicts the flouting of international laws by major countries, the inaction and bureaucracy of the United Nations, and the heroics of activists that put themselves in harm’s way to save the refugees.

Visit the Seoul Train website.


Fax - page 1

Fax – page 1

Fax from Chinese Embassy in Ukraine
Mr. Gennadi Kofman, Ukrainian Context Film Festival Producer, received this 2-page fax from Gun Den, Cultural Attaché with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Ukraine.The letter urges Mr. Kofman to remove Seoul Train from the list of films to be shown.

This letter is written in Cyrillic characters. For an English  translation of this letter, see below.

Click here to see the full fax written in Cyrillic characters.

English translation of the fax

English translation of the fax

English Translation of the Fax
Read the actual comments here. Since China’s ‘diplomatic’ employees are unlikely to take such measures without the promptings of central authorities, this document reveals how the Chinese government regards freedom of expressiion and truthful reporting of facts.

Click here to read the English translation.


Reply written in Cyrilic

Reply written in Cyrilic

The Festival Director’s Reply
The Ukrainian Context Film Festival went forward as planned, including the screening of Seoul Train.Furthermore, festival director Kofman sent a copy of the fax he received to Jim Butterworth, the producer-director of the film. Again, this letter is typed in Cyrillic characters.

Click here to see the original reply.

English translation of the reply

English translation of the reply

English Translation of the Reply
Read Mr. Kofman’s response to China’s pressure. Mr Kofman is to be commended for his courage and his resistance to outside pressure.

Click here to view the document in English.