We start with two perspectives on the 1975 evacuation of Saigon at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. First, from the standpoint of U.S. soldiers, as illustrated in the Oscar-nominated documentary Last Days in Vietnam. Second, from the Vietnamese viewpoint, from the author of the novel The Sympathizer. Next, listen to how North Korea tried to steal film success from another country. And finally, we explore how Instagram helps users experience foreign places.
FROM THIS EPISODE
When American troops were leaving Vietnam in 1975, several mobs of soldiers and South Vietnamese scrambled to get out of Saigon. Amid the chaos, U.S. soldiers had to decide who was going to be left behind. Filmmaker Rory Kennedy tries to make sense of the confusion and mayhem in her Oscar-nominated documentary Last Days in Vietnam.
Rory Kennedy, Director, 'Last Days of Vietnam'
There are plenty of films and books depicting the horrors of the Vietnam War. But most look at it from the American perspective. Author Viet Thanh Nguyen took the Vietnamese position in his tragicomic novel The Sympathizer. The main character is a half-European, half-Vietnamese spy placed in Saigon at the end of the war. Nguyen himself was only four-years-old when his family fled Saigon in 1975 for the United States.
Viet Thanh Nguyen, author, 'The Sympathizer'
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Kim Jong-Un’s father, Kim Jong II, was a huge fan of American films. He wanted to build a North Korean film industry that would rival Hollywood’s. His solution? Kidnap one of South Korea’s most-famous directors along with his actress ex-wife. We hear the story from Paul Fischer, author of “A Kim Jong-II Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power.”
We often only see foreign countries in the aftermath of a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, but these images hardly paint the whole picture of a place. They don’t show the normal, everyday lives of the people. That inspired photojournalist Ali Kaveh and Vanity Fair contributor Austin Merrill to create the Instagram feed “Everyday Africa.” Now the feed has 127,000 followers and has been replicated for other places like Egypt and the Bronx.