North Korea vs. art.

Author:Suderman, Peter

Kim Jong-il, dictator of North Korea from 1994 to 2011, always fancied himself an artist. Throughout the 1970s--while his father, Kim Il-Sung, ruled the nation--he ran the country's culture ministry, and he was both a theorist and practitioner of the dramatic arts.


In 1974, Kim Jong-il published a treatise titled On the Art of Opera: Talk to Creative Workers in the Field of Art and Literature, arguing that conventional opera was too abstract, with "clumsy" acting and "tedious" dialogue. As reason's John Gorenfeld noted in "Dear Playwright" (January 2005), Kim's book describes the way he and his father "discovered the husk of a tired art form and gave it a much-needed shot of North Korean communism."

The younger Kim put his revisionist notions about theater into practice with productions of Sea of Blood, one of the regime's "Five Great Revolutionary Operas." In the early 1970s, he even directed a three-hour movie version of the show.

Today, his 31-year-old son Kim Jong-un leads the country. He seems to prefer geopolitical drama to theater.

At the end of 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment was hacked. Final cuts of several unreleased films, including Ann/e, were leaked online. The hackers also began posting packages filled with private information about Sony employees, including salaries, Social Security numbers, and executives' internal emails....

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