Crossing the Line: What Kind of a Jerk Would Defect to North Korea? Oh…

In 1962, U.S. Army Pvt. James Dresnok walked north across the Korean demilitarized zone, firing upon his own troops as he deserted. Now he's reportedly the last living U.S. defector in North Korea—an ideal subject for a documentary, if only filmmaker Daniel Gordon could get him to say something interesting. The hulking, metal-toothed Dresnok, however, sticks to the party line, telling Gordon how well he's treated in between shots of him fishing, smoking, drinking, and fishing some more (he's on government assistance, in case you're wondering). Perhaps scrambling to give his subject depth, Gordon spends inordinate time on Dresnok's love of poontang—the thrice-married man deserted to avoid a court martial for an AWOL booty call, then taunted his former Army buds over a loudspeaker about how he "had a lot of girls." Bizarre details about his life as Great Leader Kim Il Sung's performing monkey surface not as often as you'd wish—such as that his pro-U.S. tattoo was surgically removed, and that he allegedly beat up other American defectors at the urging of his hosts. But the portrait that lingers is of a guy who's got it pretty good in North Korea, suggesting that it's difficult to make a hard-hitting documentary in a dictatorship.

 
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