Cover image for A Kim Jong-il production : the extraordinary true story of a kidnapped filmmaker, his star actress, and a young dictator's rise to power
Title:
A Kim Jong-il production : the extraordinary true story of a kidnapped filmmaker, his star actress, and a young dictator's rise to power
Author:
Fischer, Paul (Documentary film producer)
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Flatiron Books, 2015.
Physical Description:
x, 353 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Summary:
"A nonfiction thriller packed with tension, passion, and politics, [this book] offers a rare glimpse into a secretive world, illuminating a fascinating chapter of North Korea's history that helps explain how it became the hermetically sealed, intensely stage-managed country it remains today"--Amazon.com.

Before becoming the world's most notorious dictator, Kim Jong-Il ran North Korea's Ministry for Propaganda and its film studios. Conceiving every movie made, he acted as producer and screenwriter. Despite this control, he was underwhelmed by the available talent and took drastic steps, ordering the kidnapping of Choi Eun-Hee, South Korea's most famous actress, and her ex-husband Shin Sang-Ok, the country's most famous filmmaker. It is announced that the couple will remarry and act as the Dear Leader's film advisors. Together they made seven films; pretending to research a film in Vienna, they flee to the U.S. embassy and are swept to safety.
Language:
English
Contents:
Introduction: August, 1982 -- Reel one: a sense of destiny. A photograph on the blue house lawn -- Director Shin & Madame Choi -- Shrimp among whales -- A double rainbow over Mount Paekdu -- Kim Jong Il's first loves -- Fathers and sons -- Inside the Pyongyang picture show -- A three-second kiss -- Repulse bay -- Reel two: guests of the dear leader. The hermit kingdom -- Accused -- Musicals, movies, and ideological studies -- Taken -- The others -- Escape from Chestnut Valley -- Shin Sang-Ok died here -- The torture position -- Division 39 -- The hunger strike -- Director Shin is coming -- Intermission: the people's actress Woo in-Hee -- Reel three: produced by Kim Jong-Il. Together -- The tape recorder -- Lights, camera -- Out of the North -- Like a European movie -- The press conference -- Same bed, different dreams -- A full shooting schedule -- The rubber monster -- Vienna -- From Kim to Kim -- The stars and stripes -- Epilogue: 2013 -- Afterword.
ISBN:
9781250054265
Format :
Book

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Central Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Audubon Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Clarence Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Clearfield Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Crane Branch Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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East Aurora Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Eggertsville-Snyder Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Kenmore Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Lancaster Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Orchard Park Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Anna M. Reinstein Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Julia Boyer Reinstein Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Williamsville Library PN1993.5.K63 F57 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

"The 1978 abductions of the South Korean actress Choi-Eun-hee and her ex-husband, the director Shin Sang-ok, in Hong Kong is the true crime at the center of Paul Fischer's gripping and surprisingly timely new book."
-The New York Times

Before becoming the world's most notorious dictator, Kim Jong-Il ran North Korea's Ministry for Propaganda and its film studios. Conceiving every movie made, he acted as producer and screenwriter. Despite this control, he was underwhelmed by the available talent and took drastic steps, ordering the kidnapping of Choi Eun-Hee (Madam Choi)-South Korea's most famous actress-and her ex-husband Shin Sang-Ok, the country's most famous filmmaker.

Madam Choi vanished first. When Shin went to Hong Kong to investigate, he was attacked and woke up wrapped in plastic sheeting aboard a ship bound for North Korea. Madam Choi lived in isolated luxury, allowed only to attend the Dear Leader's dinner parties. Shin, meanwhile, tried to escape, was sent to prison camp, and "re-educated." After four years he cracked, pledging loyalty. Reunited with Choi at the first party he attends, it is announced that the couple will remarry and act as the DearLeader's film advisors. Together they made seven films, in the process gaining Kim Jong-Il's trust. While pretending to research a film in Vienna, they flee to the U.S. embassy and are swept to safety.

A nonfiction thriller packed with tension, passion, and politics, author Paul Fischer's A Kim Jong-Il Production offers a rare glimpse into a secretive world, illuminating a fascinating chapter of North Korea's history that helps explain how it became the hermetically sealed, intensely stage-managed country it remains today.


Author Notes

PAUL FISCHER is a film producer who studied social sciences at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris and film at the University of Southern California and the New York Film Academy. Paul's first feature film, the documentary Radioman , won the Grand Jury Prize at the Doc NYC film festival and was released to critical and commercial acclaim. A Kim Jong-Il Production is his first book.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Producer Fischer exposes the celluloid source of North Korea's most surreal brutality in this confounding chronicle of Kim Jong-Il's movie fanaticism. This scheming, ruthless, luxury-loving son of dictator Kim Il-Sung immersed himself in an enormous secret collection of Western movies, cranked out propaganda films featuring a curious mix of violence and schmaltz, and forced the citizenry to watch them. Hungry for international recognition and short on talent, Kim Jong-Il had his henchmen abduct the brightest stars of South Korean cinema, pioneering actress Choi Eun-ee and director Shin Sang-Ok, her unfaithful husband. Fischer recounts with vim and precision the astounding details of their kidnappings, long solitary incarcerations, surprise reunion, perpetual surveillance, and coercion into making films that did, indeed, win prestigious awards, until their audacious escape. Fischer matches keen cinematic analysis with an unusually cogent and vivid brief history of the two postwar Koreas. The most compelling facets of this book of astonishments are Fischer's insights into the relationships between Choi, Shin, and their diabolical captor and Fischer's canny perception of how Kim Jong-Il turned his oppressed, corrupt, and starving country into one vast theatrical production of fantasy, deceit, and terror, scripting lives of fear, ignorance, obedience, and deprivation. Gripping and revelatory, Fischer's true-life thriller provides a portal into the mad tyranny of North Korea.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2015 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

North Korea is a nightmarish movie theater without an exit in this gripping true-life thriller. Fischer, a documentary filmmaker, recounts the 1977-78 abductions of South Korea's leading director, Shin Sang-Ok, and his ex-wife, the movie star Choi Eun-Hee. The two were abducted on the orders of North Korea's movie-obsessed crown prince Kim Jong-Il, who wanted them to upgrade the government's wooden propaganda films with pizzazz and higher production values. The story combines harrowing hardships-Choi endured house arrest and constant Kafkaesque "reeducation" exercises; Shin was starved and tortured in prison after escape attempts-with dizzying reversals of fortune as the couple are rehabilitated to make hit films under Kim's sponsorship and later plot a nerve-racking flight to the West. In Fischer's vivid close-up, Kim emerges as "the archetypal film producer" writ monstrous: charming and lordly, basking in parties with Joy Brigade starlets and groveling underlings, full of tasteless visions, and ruthless when crossed. (He ordered a mistress who two-timed him to be shot in front of thousands of spectators, including her husband.) Fischer's entertaining narrative paints an arresting portrait of a North Korean "theater state," forced to enact the demented script of a sociopathic tyrant. Photos. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. In 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.-Joshua Wallace, Ranger Coll., TX (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

A Note on Sources, Method, and Namesp. ix
Castp. xi
Introduction: August 1982p. 1
Reel 1 A Sense of Destiny
1 A Photograph on the Blue House Lawnp. 9
2 Director Shin and Madame Choip. 14
3 Shrimp Among Whalesp. 23
4 A Double Rainbow over Mount Paekdup. 33
5 Kim Jong-H's First Lovesp. 39
6 Fathers and Sonsp. 54
7 Inside the Pyongyang Picture Showp. 59
8 A Three-Second Kissp. 73
9 Repulse Bayp. 83
Reel 2 Guests of the Dear Leader
10 The Hermit Kingdomp. 91
11 Accusedp. 104
12 Musicals, Movies, and Ideological Studiesp. 109
13 Takenp. 120
14 The Othersp. 130
15 Escape from the Chestnut Valleyp. 146
16 Shin Sang-Ok Died Herep. 155
17 The Torture Positionp. 167
18 Division 39p. 173
19 The Hunger Strikep. 184
20 Director Shin Is Comingp. 192
Intermission: The People's Actress woo in-nee
Real 3 Produced by Kim Jong-IL
21 Togetherp. 213
22 The Tape Recorderp. 217
23 Lights, Camera...p. 230
24 Out of the Northp. 241
25 Like a European Moviep. 249
26 The Press Conferencep. 255
27 Same Bed, Different Dreamsp. 263
28 A Full Shooting Schedulep. 268
29 The Rubber Monsterp. 282
30 Viennap. 292
31 From Kim to Kimp. 302
32 The Stars and Stripesp. 312
Epilogue: 2013p. 322
Afterwordp. 333
Acknowledgmentsp. 341
Selected Bibliographyp. 345

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