Escape From Mogadishu, Korea’s submission to this year’s International Feature Oscar race, tells the harrowing true story of North and South Koreans caught in the middle of a brutal civil war in Somalia in 1991, and how the divided nation worked together to survive the crisis in a foreign land.
Director Ryoo Seung-wan was adamant about making sure the story was told from an authentic perspective. Joined by producer Kang Hye-jung on the film’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders International awards-season event, he talked about why he chose to chronicle this specific moment by explaining the politics leading up to the events in the narrative feature film that stars Kim Yoon-seok, Huh Joon-ho, Zo In-sung, Koo Kyo-hwan, Jeong Man-sik and Kim So-jin.
“Korea was the only divided nation in the world at that time. And at that time, both North and South Korea had not been admitted to the United Nations,” he said. “The international community recognized Korea more as an entity than a country.”
Spurred by the need to become a part of the UN and establish their countries on the world stage (though both countries had different reasons for joining), the countries’ embassies found themselves on the continent of Africa, specifically Somalia, to court votes. That’s when civil war erupted, trapping diplomats from both countries in the city.
Ryoo added, “Because the African continent is composed of so many countries — for Korea to be admitted to the UN, both countries needed the support of the continent. North Korea wanted to enter the UN as one nation, while South Korea thought it would be more realistic to enter as separate.”
Escape From Mogadishu was released in the U.S. by Well Go Entertainment in August.
Check out the panel video above.