Throughout the day we’ve delved a bit into who Kim Jong Il was and what he meant to his country and the international community. There’s also no denying that the so-called “Dear Leader” was quite a personality.
One of the highlights in most obituaries written about him was his love for film. As the BBC tells it, in 1978, Kim was so desperate to make a great Communist film that he ordered the kidnapping of South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and his wife, the actress Choi Eun-hee.
They were in North Korea until 1986 and completed seven films “before escaping to the West.” Shin wrote a memoir about his time in North Korea, which was punctuated with time in prison when he refused to make propaganda films.
Back in 2003, The Guardian ran an excellent piece about Shin’s time in North Korea. The piece explores Shin’s interactions with Kim and the North Korean leader’s obsession with film through what he wrote in his books.
It also tells the story of Pulgasari, one of Kim’s crowning achievements. It was a monster film made by Shin that got inspiration from Godzilla. In fact, as Shin told The Guardian, Kim guaranteed the safety of a number of Japanese film stars to come into North Korea to act in Pulgasari.
Here’s how The Guardian describes the film:
“On one hand, Pulgasari is a cautionary tale about what happens when the people leave their fate in the hands of the monster, a capitalist by dint of his insatiable consumption of iron. But it is also tempting to read the monster as a metaphor for Kim Il-sung, hijacking the ‘people’s revolution’ to ultimately serve his purposes.
“When the movie was delivered to Kim, he saw it as a great victory. Trucks pulled up to Shin Films to unload pheasants, deer and wild geese for the movie crew to feast on.”
We’ll let you click over to The Guardian to read that piece (it’s fascinating history). Meanwhile, we’ll leave you with a couple of scenes from the film: