A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power

Flatiron. Feb. 2015. 368p. bibliog. ISBN 9781250054265. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250054289. HIST
OrangeReviewStarIn 1978, South Korean actress Choi Eun-Hee and her movie director husband, Shin Sang-Ok, disappeared. Five years later they reemerged as North Korean filmmakers. In his first book, film producer Fischer documents Choi and Shin's lives before, during, and after their years of captivity in North Korea. Initially both of them were held separately in luxurious surroundings, unaware that the other had also been kidnapped. After repeated escape attempts, Shin was imprisoned in horrendous circumstances. Eventually both realized that the only way they could ever escape would be to win the trust of their kidnapper, Kim Jong-Il. During a trip to Vienna in 1986, the two managed to elude their minders and sought refuge at the U.S. embassy. Readers will learn about the history of filmmaking in both Koreas, and how Kim Jong-Il used films to help guarantee his position as successor to his father, Kim Il-Sung.
VERDICT By examining the lives of these two extraordinary people, Fischer sheds light on politics, society, and culture in secretive North Korea. This enjoyable read is highly recommended for North Korea watchers as well as movie aficionados.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing