The Lovers and the Despot review – riveting study of Kim Jong-il's movie-loving madness

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When the North Korean dictator wanted a film industry he simply abducted a successful South Korean film-maker and his wife, beginning this bizarre true story of grotesque abuse

At last: one of the most staggeringly strange cases of Stockholm syndrome in history – and surely the weirdest story ever to have emerged from world cinema – now has been given the serious documentary treatment. In the 1950s and 60s, producer-director Shin Sang-ok was the titan of South Korean cinema, but by the 70s his career was flagging. In North Korea, the dysfunctional communist princeling Kim Jong-il was obsessed with movies and conceived the bizarre notion of jump-starting his nation’s film industry by abducting Shin to work for him. This he did by instructing an agent to pose as a producer, luring Shin’s ex-wife Choi Eun-hee to Hong Kong with the promise of a role, kidnapping her and taking her to North Korea. The reason? Bait. He calculated, correctly, that Shin would come looking for her in Hong Kong – where he too was abducted. (It begins to sound, bizarrely, like the plot of The Vanishing.)

Related: Directing dictators: bringing an authoritarian regime to the big screen

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Source: north-korea
Link : The Lovers and the Despot review – riveting study of Kim Jong-il’s movie-loving madness



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