An unlikely film buff – Kim Jong-Il

Kim Jong-Il the father of the current North Korean premier was an avid cinephile. He apparently had a collection of over 15,000 films and particularly liked James Bond and Rambo type films.

Choi Eun-hee and director Shin Jeong-gyun made nearly 17 films for their captor, Kim Jong-Il

He was deeply disappointed with the usual drab movies that North Korean directors produced and complained about the wailing and crying that was often present. He wondered why this was – ‘as if we are at a funeral’

He plotted to have a famous South Korean actress by the name of Choi Eun-hee to be lured to Hong Kong on a pretext of a business proposal and then had her kidnapped and imprisoned in North Korea. Kim treated her well as she was held in lavish but secure locations.

Kim later had Shin Jeong-gyun, a famous South Korean film director and Choi’s ex-husband chloroformed and abducted to North Korea. Shin Jeong-gyun opposed the imprisonment and tried to escape several times for which he was sent to prison work camp for several years to ‘reform’ his mind.

In 1983, Kim invited the former couple to his birthday party so he could “introduce” them. It was a shocking, emotional reunion as neither knew of the other’s capture by Kim. Soon after, Kim put them to work making films at great pace clocking up nearly 17 films in two years! The films weren’t the normal state propaganda movies but instead had plots, romance and even sex scenes which was unheard of. Some films made it to Eastern block film festivals which is what Kim craved.

The most expensive and final film made by Kim Jong-Il

The final and most expensive film that they made was called Pulgasari, which was heavily influenced by the recently popular Godzilla films.

Eventually  after ten years of capture and on one of the many film festivals that they attended, the couple escaped whilst in Vienna. They managed to slip away from their minders avoiding capture and found refuge and asylum in the US embassy. One can assume that Kim didn’t take to this escape kindly and as to whether Kim pursued his passion with the same vigour is not known.

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