Seoul Train is the gripping documentary exposé into the life-and-death struggle faced by North Korean refugees as they flee their homeland through China. Seoul Train combines vérité and hidden camera footage with personal stories and interviews to reveal the harrowing journey attempted by some 250,000 North Koreans, whose refugee status is not recognized by China. Their clandestine escape covers hundreds of miles of Chinese territory via an “underground railroad” of safe houses and hidden routes. The refugees — and the activists that help them — face imprisonment and possibly execution if captured and returned to North Korea. With rare and candid interviews with U.N., U.S., South Korean and Chinese officials, Seoul Train skillfully explores the geopolitical forces behind this crisis — with a human face.

  • Produced by Lisa Sleeth and Jim Butterworth
  • Directed by Jim Butterworth, Aaron Lubarsky and Lisa Sleeth
  • Edited by Aaron Lubarsky
  • Camera by Lisa Sleeth and Jim Butterworth
  • Additional Camera by Ishimaro Jiro, Ahn Chol, Oh Young-phil, Chun Ki-won, Moon Kook-han and Beth Butterworth
  • Assistant Editor: Brandon Park
  • Assistant Editing: Jim Butterworth, Lisa Sleeth and Paul Lee
  • Post-Production Facility: postDox
  • Audio Post-Production: Zlatko Makiç, Zimage Sound Production
  • Color Correction: Will Cox, Final Frame
  • Original Music: David Harris
  • Associate Producers: Ronald Eisen and Richard Lim
  • Translation: Jisu Kim, Grace Lee, Kim Sang-hun, Sin-U Nam, Sun-mi Peters, Julien Mailland, Rev. Ju Jang-don, Shul-Ping Lu, Leonid Petrov, Aleksandra “Ola” Stawecka, Karin & Evi Millette, Corrine & Dominique, Adrian Hong, Jinna Park, Stéphanie Bonin, Natálie Šeborová, Shioe Okamura and Leslie Simitch
  • Graphics: Chad Roark, Eun Jung Song, Lauren Kim and Dan-ah Kim

“A brilliant documentary”

— The New York Times

“So compelling that you can’t stop watching”

— Wall Street Journal

“If this film doesn’t sear your heart, you haven’t got one.”

— Bloomberg News

“A truly remarkable film…raw emotional power.”

— Council on Foreign Relations

“Drive, walk, run…but however you do it, be sure to see Seoul Train.”

— Denver Post

“A harrowing geopolitical study…Seoul Train is a must see.”

— Honolulu Weekly

“A gripping documentary.”

— ABC News

“Emotionally evocative”

— Cleveland Free Times

“An unprecedented exposé…a stunning portrait of a humanitarian crisis in the making”

— Bright Lights Film Journal

“A groundbreaking documentary.”

— KoreAm Journal

“A powerful documentary that clearly reveals the tragic human conditions in North Korea.”

— Venice Magazine

Seoul Train is a must see.”

— Film Freak Central

“Intensely visceral, illuminating, and deeply moving”

— Strictly Film School


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