“This is a beautifully wrought film.” 
- Bruce Kirkland, Toronto Sun

"a touching exploration"
- Katie Clandy, AnE Vibe

“"Who is Korean?," the director wonders. This film is a gripping, and very moving, exploration of the answer.”
- Montreal Gazette


A reunification road trip through the two Koreas

Directed by Min Sook Lee
Produced by Ed Barreveld, Min Sook Lee and Anita Lee (NFB)

Tiger Spirit free screening
Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 4:00pm
NFB Mediatheque
150 John Street, Toronto, ON, Canada


Gemini award


Korea is a divided nation. The psychic scar shared by millions of people, separated from their families during the Korean War in the 1950s, is symbolized by the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing communist North from capitalist South. Here, along this infamous border, award-winning filmmaker Min Sook Lee sets out on a revelatory, emotion-charged journey into Korea’s broken heart, exploring the rhetoric and realism of reunification through the extraordinary stories of ordinary people.

Tiger Spirit begins in the Korean foothills, where the filmmaker joins former TV videographer Lim Sun Nam in his obsessive quest to prove tigers still live in the DMZ’s swath of wilderness. A powerful symbol of resilience in Korean mythology, the tiger once roamed the peninsula but is thought extinct in the region. Lim believes finding the tiger will reconnect Koreans to their spirit and fuel the reunification train.

But a tiger’s stripes extend beyond its fur. Inspired by her desire to understand the country she left as a child when her family moved to Canada, Lee takes us deeper than symbols, asking the crucial question—how will the two Koreas be put back together?

We meet stoic elderly Koreans holding out for news of long lost relatives in the North. We encounter the fractured lives of younger defectors, including a woman who relives her harrowing escape story every day working as a tour guide at a war memorial site.

Crossing the DMZ into North Korea, we visit an inter-Korean economic project in Kaesong, the ancient capital. And we gain unprecedented access to state-sanctioned family reunions held at a high security “resort,” where we witness the Kim family’s heart-wrenching meeting with a relative they haven’t seen for 50 years.

An eloquent tale of longing and hope, Tiger Spirit is unforgettable portrait of Korea at a crossroads.

Produced by Storyline Entertainment in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada in Association with History Television and with the Participation of the Canadian Television Fund, created by the Government of Canada and the Canadian Cable Industry, Rogers Documentary Fund and The Canadian Film or Video Tax Credit.