Koreans from South and North recount the History of the peninsula.
For 60 years, both Koreas have been divided in two opposite countries, systems, ideologies. How did we get there? What are the stakes of this story? Is a Korean reunification still possible?

For the first time, Koreans from South and North have accepted to tell their history beyond clichés.

Politicians, diplomats, spies, generals, businesspeople, writers, sportspeople talk in length in the two episodes. Add to that numerous shootings in both countries, and archives from North and South, plus USA, Russia, China and Europe.

For a long time, Korea was one. Partition was never the country’s own choice. For the population, this division remains a fracture. It has caused true suffering: not only the over 10 million families who are said to have been separated by the Korean War, but also the military and ideological frost that ensued. Then, a nation cleft in two that was more often a toy in the hands of the great powers than a master of its own fate.

DMZ is the name of the separating line between North and South Korea along the 38th parallel and the most fortified border in the world. Why can’t the Koreans take their fate in their hands? What are the barriers to a peaceful reunification?

In a 2×52 major historical documentary French director Pierre-Olivier François will draw a portrait of the Korean Nation: By looking at these different stories of contrast the film recounts this separation from the inside. For a nation is not just the sum of its inhabitants, revenue and tanks. A country and a nation have a shared past, shared dreams and mirrored landscapes. Impalpable qualities that can (sometimes) outlast decades, eras and regimes. The film as a whole outlines the role of the great powers that surround – or circle – Korea. It queries their declaration of principle in favor of a reunified country, and their deeper interests that often follow a totally opposite track.

Today, Korea’s reunification may seem impossible. However, despite 60 years of airtight separation, when the North Koreans take off their Communist uniforms and the South Koreans their capitalist suits to don their taekwondo kimonos, the Koreans are all the same. Taekwondo, the Korean martial art, will be used as a metaphor to reveal the Korean mindset.

Pierre-Olivier François

Pierre-Olivier François is a French German TV reporter and documentary maker. Born in France in 1971, he studied political science and journalism at the Paris Institute for Political Science, and the free University of Berlin. He then started a carrier as TV Reporter and journalist, mostly for the French German public television ARTE, covering a wide range of topics in French and european politics, foreign affairs, but also culture and arts. He also worked for the German press, and sometimes for the Economist. From 2000 on, he also began to shoot documentary films, for ARTE and other international channels. Among others, he did two important films about South and North Korea, where he went five times since 2003:” North Korea, the border and the war”, in 2003, and “Divided Korea” in 2013 – first documentary ever where North and South Korean high-ranking witnesses tell their story together in the same film). Other films deal with power and oil in Putin’s Russia: “a barrel full of dream”, in 2009, the end of communism in the east: “Farewell comrade”, in 2012, Alzheimer disease, the future of the press, and most recently, in cooperation with PBS, about Cyberwar and about surveillance and the NSA.


Aired on Arte November 5th, 2013 at 20:45

Aired on Arte November 8th, 11th and 19th 2013

Aired on Arte July 27th, 2016

Aired on Radio Canada “Zone Doc”, December 21st and 28th, 2014

Aired on LCP, February 25th, 2015

Aired on LCP on July 22nd and 27th and August 8th and 15th, 2015

Aired on RTS 2 “histoire vivante” February 16th, 2017

Aired on LCP, November 21st, and Décember 8th, 14th and 28th, 2017

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