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

Position:Book review


A Kim Jong-il Production

The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power

By Paul Fischer


In his debut book, Paul Fischer, a film producer, explores a bizarre episode in the history of North Korea. It comes hot on the heels of the international controversy over Sony Pictures' The Interview, a comedy satirizing Kim Jong-il's son, Kim Jongun, North Korea's current leader.

THE TOPIC: A Kim Jong-il Production sounds a lot like a Hollywood caper: a powerful North Korean minister kidnaps a beautiful South Korean movie star and her famous ex-husband director, holds them captive, and forces them to produce propaganda films. But truth is often stranger than fiction, for this is exactly what happened in 1978, when South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee and her ex-husband, the director Shin Sang-ok, were abducted in Hong Kong by Kim Jong-il, a maniacal Western film buff who then headed North Korea's Ministry for Propaganda and Film (and became the future Supreme Leader). For eight years, the famous couple made films, including a romantic comedy and the Godzilla-like Pulgasari, which broke with tradition, before their escape. Fischer explores Choi Eun-Hee and Shin Sang-Ok's rise to stardom; their reunion and cruel and luxurious years in captivity; the countries' political atmospheres; and the rise of Kim Jong-il and his nefarious regime.

Flatiron. 368 pages. $27.99. ISBN: 9781250054265

Boston Globe ****

"The saga draws a vivid portrait of a regime marked by spectacle, oppression, and a heaping helping of farce. At times Fischer's language veers perilously close to the melodrama that, admittedly, comes naturally to his story" JAMES SULLIVAN

New York Daily News ****

"The story of how infamous North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il--playing 007 in his mind--kidnapped a South Korean actress famous for her Hollywood star quality reads like farce but is mind-blowing reality. A Kim Jong II Production ... relates events so incredible it makes The Interview, the outrageous comedy that so offended North Korea it launched a hack attack on Sony Pictures, seem entirely fact-based." SHERRYL CONNELLY

Los Angeles Times ***

"Fischer is not the first to posit that Kim Jong Il approached ruling his country like a megalomaniacal movie man, the entire nation his stage, each citizen an actor whose lines were to be said as written, no player too precious to be summarily cut (i.e. killed) if they didn't stay on-script....

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