With North-South diplomacy soured after Pyongyang's nuclear test, films about the hermit state earned a timely airing at Pusan. This year's festival hosted the world premieres of two documentaries about North Korea, plus the screening of a restored version of Arch of Chastity, a South Korean classic, directed by the late Shin Sang-ok, who was kidnapped on Kim Jong-il's orders in 1978 and coaxed into making seven films in North Korea before an audacious escape in Vienna in 1986. As Arch was made in 1962, the North Korean link is merely incidental. However, in Daniel Gordon's Crossing the Line, the North is centre stage. The documentary records, for the first time, a complete, first-hand account from James Dresnok, the GI who walked over to the north side of the 37th parallel in 1962 to defect. Crossing the Line presents Dresnok as someone who has found contentment in the North, despite initial misgivings about the stranglehold the Kim regime has on all aspects of society. Gordon - who had made a previous documentary in North Korea, The Games of Their Lives, about the North Korean footballers who shook up the 1966 World Cup - was among the filmmakers who did not make it to Pusan. However, German director Uli Gaulke was present for his film Comrades in Dreams. A chronicle of the lives of four film projectionists, the tales from India, Burkina Faso and Wyoming were put in the shade by the section on the fourth projectionist, Han Jong-sil from North Korea. It was a moving experience talking to Han, says Gaulke. Courteous and disciplined, Han's devotion to her work - when it's clear to viewers outside North Korea that the films Han works with are all fictitious propaganda - is certainly heart-wrenching. Comrades in Dreams offers a far less rosy look at North Korea than some of the documentaries about the country in recent years. Although Gaulke insists that he's not interested in the political intrigue about the country, his film - which documents the tribulations of Han, both in her work at the cinema, her times as an ordinary citizen and her devastating innocence about her struggle in life - illustrates the spiralling state of things in North Korea. It's something that hasn't escaped the attention of the authorities, he says. 'In the beginning, they were like, 'Oh yes, we would want to bring our cinema to the world'. But what happened during the shooting was that they were not so happy about the choice of our main figure because it was not their image of a hero. 'There's a lot of sadness about Han - she's a real human being, and that's what the officials don't [want to] bring out. They want to sell the image of a strong nation.' Gaulke's experience with his minders during his three-week stay in North Korea shows the hiccups that can occur in the state machinery. 'We spent a lot of time at this collective farm,' he says. 'And that was to our advantage, to work in one place and spend a lot of time with Han. So, after three or five hours [the guides] were tired - they wanted to go out because they were bored, they were completely confused. That's when we get the good stuff from the interviews.'