Kim Jong-il’s Godzilla Movie & His Free Writings on Film Theory

Ding, dong, Kim Jong-il is dead. Read­ing The New York Times obit, one lit­tle piece of the dic­ta­tor’s insane world stood out for us:

Short and round, he wore ele­va­tor shoes, over­size sun­glass­es and a bouf­fant hair­do — a Hol­ly­wood stereo­type of the wacky post-cold-war dic­ta­tor. Mr. Kim him­self was fas­ci­nat­ed by film. He orches­trat­ed the kid­nap­ping of an actress and a direc­tor, both of them South Kore­ans, in an effort to build a domes­tic movie indus­try.

Let’s give you more on this sto­ry: In 1978, Shin Sang-ok, South Kore­a’s famous direc­tor, went to Hong Kong to fig­ure out why his ex-wife, actress Choi Eun-hee, went miss­ing. When he arrived, North Kore­an agents pulled him into a car, threw a bag over his head, then shipped him to Pyongyang wrapped in plas­tic. (The BBC has more on this.) And so began his eight year impris­on­ment in North Korea, where the film­mak­er had to sat­is­fy the whims of Kim Jong-il, then a young “cinephile” who wrote On the Art of the Cin­e­ma in 1973, and The Cin­e­ma and Direct­ing in 1987 (read the free PDF here). Shin shot eight films dur­ing his “NK peri­od,” the best-known being Pul­gasari, a 1985 Godzil­la-style movie that played to the tastes of the lit­tle dic­ta­tor. We’re adding it to the Hor­ror sec­tion of our big col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

In case you’re won­der­ing, Shin and his wife (they remar­ried while impris­oned) even­tu­al­ly escaped from North Korea in 1986, dur­ing a trip to Vien­na. Despite that, Kim Jong-il’s love of cin­e­ma did­n’t wane. Film­mak­ing still plays a big role in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of North Kore­an ide­ol­o­gy, and below we’re bring­ing back Al Jazeer­a’s look at the con­tem­po­rary North Korea film­mak­ing scene:

via i09

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