Shin Sang-ok (1926 - 2006) was a Korean movie writer, director and producer, who studied film in Japan and returned to South Korea, where he gained fame and became the uncontested leader of the film industry in the 1960s, in a time when regulations on the industry limited other studios. In the 1970s under the Fourth Republic of South Korea, the film industry was even further limited, which lead to Shin's studio being closed. Things went from bad to worse, when "the Orson Welles of South Korea" was kidnapped by request of Kim Jong Il, the son of North Korea's dictator, Kim Il Sung. The reason? Kim Jong Il wanted the nation's film industry to promote the virtues of the Korea Workers' Party to a world-wide audience. After being imprisoned for four years, Shin was reunited with his ex-wife (who was also a captive of North Korea) and the given relative freedom, producing seven films in North Korea. While setting up a distribution deal to share Kim Jong Il's vision with a broader audience for a Godzilla-like monster movie, Shin and his wife escaped and sought political asylum in the United States. Their freedom was possible because of that last film for Kim, entitled Pulgasari. But Shin's life in movies was not over yet. [more inside]
Bill Clinton makes secret trip to North Korea, wins pardon and apparent release of two captive US journalists. Jailed reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee, employees of Al Gore's Current TV, were arrested for spying in March and had recently been sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp. The remarkable development is likely to boost to Clinton's battered image. [more inside]
Kim Jong Il has reportedly chosen an heir to his throne. And like a lot of stories involving North Korea, there's a mix of world-ending gloom and mad-cap hilarity. Meet the mysterious Kim Jong-un [more inside]
The beginning of the end for Dear Leader? This Times (of London) report is filled with telling details.
Just how crazy is Kim Jong-Il? The North Korean dictator is also an uncompromising movie producer whose casting tactics make Bowfinger look tame. In In 1978, the North Korean dictator kidnapped his favorite director from South Korea, and forced him to make a terrible, Communist-themed monster movie called "Pulgasari." Keep in mind, the Bush administration considers this guy saner and more level-headed than Saddam Hussein.(registration req'd)