Last month, Chit Su Win sat on a bench outside a courtroom in Yangon, after visiting her husband, Kyaw Soe Oo, a reporter who was spending his hundredth day in jail. As we spoke about how the two met and married, Chit Su Win mentioned “A Taxi Driver,” a Korean film they had watched together six months earlier. The film is based on the true story of a German television reporter who, with the help of a South Korean taxi driver, documented the killing of nearly two hundred pro-democracy protesters by South Korea’s military dictatorship, in 1980. After the movie ended, Kyaw Soe Oo was enthralled by the film about a reporting duo who evaded military checkpoints and gunfire to share footage of the atrocities with the world.
Before watching the film, Chit Su Win told me, she was largely unaware of the dangers that came with reporting, and rarely spoke to her husband about the work he did as a reporter in Rakhine State, on Myanmar’s western coast. As the film credits rolled, she was distraught at the idea that anyone—let alone her husband—would put themselves in so much danger for his or her profession. She asked Kyaw Soe Oo to switch careers, but was unable to convince him. “He said that he has to keep doing his job because this is his passion,” she told me, through a translator, as her two-year-old daughter watched Scooby-Doo cartoons on a smartphone. “So I had to accept that, and I told him that I would be happy too if he was happy.”