The death of Kim Jong Il will have real-world ramifications far into 2012, but -- for now -- feel free to recall the North Korean dictator's more ka-razy personality traits. Like how his thoughts could control the weather. Or that time Kim kidnapped a director and his actress-wife, held them captive separately for five years, and finally hired them to make North Korean films that weren't just "perfunctory." Dude was a regular Robert Evans!
Kim's obituary only makes passing reference to the kidnapping of South Korean filmmaker Shin Sang-ok and his Choi Eun-hee in 1978, but a 2003 Guardian article on the bizarre incident goes far into what transpired between the dear leader and Shin in the eight years before the filmmaker escaped North Korea for good.
After being kidnapped, Shin -- who had been described as South Korea's answer to Orson Welles because of his groundbreaking film working during the '60s and '70s -- tried to escape, which landed him in Prison No. 6, a place where he was fed grass, salt and rice for four years. Then, out of the blue one day in 1983, Shin was released and reunited with his thought-to-be-dead wife at a reception, where Kim presented the pair with his vision for the future of North Korean filmmaking.
"The North's filmmakers are just doing perfunctory work. They don't have any new ideas," Kim apparently told the couple. "Their works have the same expressions, redundancies, the same old plots. All our movies are filled with crying and sobbing. I didn't order them to portray that kind of thing."
Kim, who wrote multiple books on film, considered himself a film theorist. As he wrote in 'The Cinema and Directing':
"The basic duty of the creative group is to make revolutionary films of high ideological and artistic value, which make an effective contribution to arming people fully with the Party's monolithic ideology and which imbue the whole of society with the great Juche idea."
That, plus less crying and sobbing.
Following his "release," Shin made seven films with Kim Jong Il -- who acted as executive producer -- including 'Pulgasari,' a North Korean take on 'Godzilla' that the Guardian once described as a "terrifically bad movie."
After their escape to the American embassy in Vienna during a trip in 1986, Kim claimed that Shin and Choi were kidnapped by Americans. Shin Sang-ok died in Seoul, South Korea in April of 2006; his wife remains alive to this day. You can read more about Shin's amazing story over at The Guardian online.
[Photo: AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS]
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