It’s been very tantalising knowing that this film has been in the making. LKL met with the directors of this project back in early 2012 and made a few introductions which may or may not have been of assistance. It sounded like an interesting angle on a familiar topic – the sojourn of Shin Sang-ok and Choi Eun-hee in North Korea: the intention was to tell the story as a love story, as evidenced by the title. Others known to the LKL readership – such as Paul Quinn and Sinae Hong – have also been engaged with the project as it proceeded, with Sinae helping with the translation of interviews and documents.
You can see the results at Picturehouse Central on 23 September, with a director Q&A. The documentary is also released simultaneously online – for example you will be able to rent or buy from www.wearecolony.com from 24 September. Before then, you are highly recommended to read Paul Fischer’s lively book, A Kim Jong-il Production, now in a more tasteful cover than when first published. LKL book review is here.
The Lovers and the Despot + Q&A
Directors: Ross Adam, Robert Cannan. UK 2016. 98 mins.
Picturehouse Central, Fri 23rd Sep 6:30pm | Book here
After the screening we’re delighted to welcome directors Ross Adam and Robert Cannan for a Q&A.
It’s one of the most bizarre true stories in movie-industry history. South Korean director Shin Sang-ok and actress Choi Eun-hee were the Pitt-Jolies of their day – they met on set in the 1950s and their celebrity romance fuelled their box office success for two decades. In the 1970s they divorced, and were then kidnapped – separately – by North Korean agents. After five years’ imprisonment they were reunited by dictator Kim Jong-il – a notorious movie nut – who dubbed them his personal filmmakers. They produced 17 features for him, in around two years, before they finally managed to escape. This stranger-than-fiction story unfolds like a propulsive thriller, with the now 89-year-old Choi providing a rare, poignant and fascinating insight into the hermit kingdom’s inner circle.