Though the severe economic hardship of the 1990s forced the centralized film industry to curtail its productivity, cinema continues to serve an important function in North Korean society. Kim Il-Sung, the former leader, and Kim Jong-Il, his heir, took great interest in movies. Kim Jong-Il began his career in the Department of Culture and Propaganda, writing several guidebooks on filmmaking methods during the 1970s that still remain relevant today. Severe limitations on subject matters are imposed because cinema must serve explicit political purposes and underscore official juch'e ideology. A North Korean averages about ten trips to see movies per year, but most of these screenings are held as an auxiliary part of cultural or sociopolitical events sponsored by the state. Some of the most accomplished films were produced during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Sea of Blood ( P'ibada , 1968) and The Flower Girl ( Kkot p'anŭn ch'ŏnyŏ , 1972), two classic films of the era, both depict the Manchurian armed resistance of the 1930s during which Kim Il-Sung built his reputation as a young leader of the independence movement.
SEE ALSO National Cinema
Kim, Kyung Hyun. The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema . Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 2004.
Lee, Hyangjin. Contemporary Korean Cinema: Identity, Culture and Politics . New York and Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2000.
McHugh, Kathleen, and Nancy Abelmann. eds. South Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gender, Genre, and National Cinema . Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2005.
Kyung Hyun Kim