In 1962, the 20 year old PFC James Dresnok was serving in the demilitarised zone between North Korea and South Korea when he just headed across in the northern side of the border. Captured by the North Koreans, Dresnok became the first of several American GI’s to “defect” to the communist North and went on to be enormous propaganda tools to the regime of the time. This film looks back on the life of Dresnok in North Korea and his importance within that regime.
It is hard to deny that this film will have limited appeal as one does have to wonder how well known the Dresnok defection is outside of those from the US who were at a certain age in the early 1960’s. I certainly knew nothing of him but was drawn to the film by the chance of learning more about the mostly inward and secretive North Korea. As such the film is quite interesting because it does give an insider’s view while also having that insider being a westerner. However the film does not just use Dresnok as the way in to the country but he is the focus of the film and this is both a strength and a weakness.
It is a strength in the way that he is a complex but likable character who is an interesting focus but it is a weakness in the way that my interest was not really with him in the first instance. This does leave us with an interesting film but one with a rather limited appeal, meaning that I did find it to be rather too long and occasionally hard work when it is focusing totally on people who I have no knowledge of or vested interest in.
Overall then a solid documentary that is reasonably interesting despite the material having a limited appeal whenever it moves into specific territory (which is the majority).