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The Bloomsbury Handbook of North Korean Cinema

This first handbook on North Korean cinema contests the assumption that North Korean film is “unwatchable,” in terms of both quality and accessibility, refusing to reduce North Korean cinema to political propaganda and focusing on its aesthetic forms and cultural meanings.

Since its founding in 1948, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) has played diverse roles: a Cold War communist threat to the US, the other half of a divided nation to South Korea, an ally to the Soviet Union and China, one model for anti-colonialism to national liberation movements, an exotic political and cultural anomaly in the era of globalization.

This handbook provides a solid and diverse foundation for the expanding scholarship on North Korean cinema. It is also a road map for connecting this field to broader issues in film and media studies: film history, affect and ideology, genre, and transnational cinema cultures. By connecting the worlds of North Korean cinema to broader questions in global cinema studies, this book explores the complexity of a national cinema too often reduced to a single image.



Travis Workman (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA), Dong Hoon Kim (University of Oregon, USA) and Immanuel Kim (George Washington University, USA)

Section I: Film History, History in Film

  1. Stars without Glamor: Moon Ye-bong and the Making of Socialist Stars in North Korea | Dong Hoon Kim (University of Oregon, USA)
  2. Pleasure, Flexibility, Didacticism, and the Lingering Impact of Socialist Realist Narrative Trajectories on DPRK Film | Andrew David Jackson (Monash University, Australia)
  3. The Reproduction of History and the Restructuring of the Cold War in the North Korean Historical Spy Film, Red Maple Leaves | Hana Lee (Seoul National University, South Korea)
  4. Land, Workers, and Revolutionary Culture in North Korean Cinema | Eunha Jeong Wood (Writer and independent scholar, USA)

Section II: Ideology and Affect

  1. 5. Religion on the North Korean Screen: Different Approaches to Christianity and Buddhism in The Ch’oe Hak-sin Family and We Met at Mt. Myohyang | Roman Husarski (Jagiellonian University, Poland)
  2. A Study of the Spectatorship of North Korean Cinema: A Schoolgirl’s Diary (2006) | Sunah Kim (Dongseo University, Busan, South Korea)
  3. North Korean Cinema Intermedial: Revolutionary Opera Film | Hyunseon Lee (University of London, UK)
  4. Female Leaders, and the “Unawakened” Male: Gender, Power, and Persuasion in Kim Jong Il’s Juche Cinema | Anna Broinowski (Sydney University, Australia)
  5. Vigilant Melody: On DPRK Film Music | Adam Cathcart (University of Leeds, UK) and Alexandra Leonzini (University of Cambridge, UK)

Section III: Genre Conventions

  1. Son’gun Cinema: Portraying the Ideal Soldier in North Korea’s Military Genre Film | Makayla Cherry (The Ohio State University, USA) and Pil Ho Kim (The Ohio State University, USA)
  2. Spy Films of North Korea: Classic Tropes and Conventions | Tatiana Gabroussenko (Korea University, South Korea)
  3. Four Weddings and Propaganda: Satire in North Korean Comedy Films | Immanuel Kim (George Washington University, USA)
  4. North Korean Documentary Film | Seung Kim (Konkuk University, South Korea)

Section IV: Transnational Exchanges

  1. Cinematic Exchanges Between North Korea and China (1945-1959): Screenings of Chinese Films in North Korea | Yu Liu (Hanyang University, South Korea)
  2. North Korean Cinema in China: The Logic of Cultural Exchange | Chris Berry (King’s College London, UK)
  3. World Cinema and Realism in 1950s and 1960s North Korean Film Criticism | Travis Workman (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA)
  4. Uncommon Crossroads of North Korean Film: Cinematic Dreaming with the Big Brother
    Gabor Sebo (Korea University, South Korea)

Section V: Interviews

  1. Filmmaker and film scholar Soyoung Kim
  2. Producer and director Nicholas Bonner

source: publisher’s website

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.