After fleeing his native North Korea to defect to the south, the artist Sun Mu works under a defiant alias meaning “no boundaries” to criticize the repressive regime of Kim Jong-un. A former propaganda artist, he subverts familiar images which once glorified the Supreme Leader, transforming them into satirical political pop art. Offered an unlikely solo exhibition in China, the anonymous artist prepares his show undercover, potentially risking his own freedom and safety to expose the truth through art.
Director, Adam Sjöberg, met Sun Mu in the winter of 2012 while working on a short film collaboration with Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), an organization that helps repatriate North Korean defectors. LiNK had been supporting and partnering with Sun Mu for a number of years and was interested in finding a documentary filmmaker whom Sun Mu could entrust to tell his story.
After getting to know each other, Sun Mu grew to trust Adam and believed in his vision for telling his story. The two collaborated through every part of production: Sun Mu created many of the cells for the animation and even filmed much of the documentary himself.
It was in the spring of 2014 that Sjöberg found a “hook” to peg the film’s narrative on: Sun Mu was offered an exclusive, rare solo exhibition at a large gallery in Beijing. He would be the first North Korean artist to have such an exhibit in China without the oversight of the DPRK.
Production began in March of that year and continued for about a year – with Sun Mu’s momentous and harrowing exhibit in July of 2014. Sjoberg’s team included Mariana Blanco as editor and associate producer, long-time collaborator Ryan Wehner handling animation, and Joel P. West composing the moving score for the film.
Post-production wrapped in September of 2015 and “I Am Sun Mu” had it’s World Premiere as the opening film at DMZ Docs film festival at Camp Greaves in the special zone just outside of the DMZ (and only miles from North Korea).