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Park was motivated to make this film because he was angry at the way Chun was treated. In the film, he made Chun, a relatively positive person, into a darker character to dramatize the challenges and injustice he faced.

The fictional Chun keeps his jacket on indoors, as if cold follows him wherever he goes. He stares at the ground, hiding his eyes behind curtain-like bangs. His only friend, besides a North Korean roommate, is a stray dog he adopts.

The film deals little with Chun’s past, other than a scene in which he tells a South Korean church audience that he fled North Korea because he was hungry _ so hungry that he killed a friend over food, bringing home the corn and leaving the body lying outside.

Park’s film is part of a second evolution in the cinema’s treatment of North Koreans.

From the end of the 1950-53 Korean War until the late 1990s, films largely depicted northerners as evil or victims. In part, that was enforced by censorship, which began under South Korea’s former military dictatorship and continued through the first decade of democracy.

The first change came with the emergence of the “sunshine policy” of embracing North Korea under President Kim Dae-jung, a former dissident who took office early in 1998.

A box office hit that year, “Swiri,” depicted a female North Korean assassin who falls in love with a South Korean intelligence officer.

“For the South Korean audience then, seeing a North Korean character with conflicting emotions was refreshing,” said Park Yoo-hee, the film critic. “Until the mid-1990s, for more than three decades, it was impossible for such films to pass government censorship.”

Heartwarming melodramas followed, such as “Joint Security Area” in 2000 and “Welcome to Dongmakgol” in 2005, in which North Koreans were no longer the bitter enemy, but respectful, even endearing, objects of love and friendship.

President Lee Myung-bak has taken a harder line on North Korea than his two liberal predecessors since he took office in 2008. Some South Korean directors, meanwhile, have shifted their focus to the lives of the refugees.

In “Crossing,” a 2009 film based on a true story, a North Korean sneaks into China to buy medicine for his sick wife. When the wife dies, he hires a broker to bring his son out, but the son dies in a Mongolian desert, only hours before their planned reunion.