TOKYO—Japan's decision to ban all shipping to North Korea starting Saturday in response to the North's apparent nuclear test this week will cut off care packages from ethnic Koreans who have lived in Japan for decades.
Among them is the divided family of ethnic Korean filmmaker Yang Yonghi, who lives in Japan.
Yang made the documentary film "Dear Pyongyang" based on her visits to her brothers in North Korea over the past decade. Her father, an ethnic North Korean immigrant to Japan, sent his three sons back to North Korea to live in 1971. Yang, who was 6 at the time, said her brothers were all born in Japan.
For more than 30 years, they've not been allowed to return. Japan, like the United States, does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea.
Japan has a large Korean community because before World War II, when Japan colonized the Korean peninsula, Japanese officials forced several hundred thousand Koreans to move to Japan to work. These people and their descendants reside in Japan but don't have Japanese citizenship unless they ask for it.
In the film, Yang asked her father why he sent his sons to North Korea.
"I didn't have to send my sons back," he murmured. "The situation has changed so badly."
The filmmaker's mother for many years sent six or seven boxes full of school supplies, clothes and other goods to the sons and their families. She sent portable body warmers to her grandchildren when she heard they had suffered frostbite on their feet.
With the new shipping ban, she no longer knows what to do to help them.
"Dear Pyongyang" won the NETPAC Asian award at the Berlin International Film Festival and the special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival this year.
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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