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North Korean Cinema: A History

From the publisher’s website:

Like many ideological dictatorships of the twentieth century, North Korea has always considered cinema an indispensible propaganda tool. No other medium penetrated the whole of the population so thoroughly, and no other medium remained so strictly and exclusively under state control. Through movies, the two successive leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il propagandized their policies and sought to rally the masses behind them, with great success. This volume chronicles the history of North Korean cinema from its beginnings to today, examining the obstacles the film industry faced as well as the many social problems the films themselves reveal. It provides detailed analyses of major and minor films and explores important developments in the industry within the context of the concurrent social and political atmosphere. Through the lens of cinema emerges a fresh perspective on the history of North Korean politics, culture, and ideology.

Johannes Schönherr is a freelance writer specializing in travel, film and food. He lives in Japan.



  1. At the Pyongyang Film Festival
  2. The Early Years
  3. The Korean War (1950–1953)
  4. The Establishment of Juche
  5. Kim Jong Il Enters the Scene
  6. Shin Sang-ok Active in North Korea (1983–1986)
  7. Shin Sang-ok’s Influence on Concurrent North Korean Cinema (1984–1986)
  8. The Post–Shin Sang-ok Years (1986–1993)
  9. Famine and the Death of Kim Il Sung (1994–1999)
  10. The Sunshine Years (2000–2008)
  11. Post-Sunshine: The Most Recent Films (2009–2011)
  12. Ten Zan, an Italian Coproduction: Ferdinando Baldi’s Ultimate Mission
  13. Audience Perspectives: Interviews with North Korean Defectors

Appendix: Original Korean Film Titles

Entry on here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.