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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

A Kim Jong-Il Production by Paul Fischer X
A Kim Jong-Il Production by Paul Fischer
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2015, 368 pages

    Nov 2015, 368 pages


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There are currently 23 member reviews
for A Kim Jong-Il Production
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  • Sarah W. (Frenchtown, MT)
    An astonishing account
    This book almost reads like fiction, but is actually the very well researched and documented account of political abduction, coercion and deceit. If I hadn't read other, corroborating nonfiction about North Korea, I would be tempted to disbelieve this story. As it is, I find it fascinating and extremely chilling. An excellent read.
  • Erica M. (Chicago, IL)
    Shrimp among whales
    I have long been fascinated by North Korea. The suppression that has occurred to millions of people, the manipulation by the government and the alternate universe created by those in power is hard for me to wrap my head around (in the same manner as trying to understand how justification of a man "owning" a human being has been incomprehensible for me), so I keep reading about it to get some idea of how to understand it. This was a superb work of literature. Not only did Fischer describe the separate and combined stories of the capture and captivity of Shin and Choi, but he told it in the context of their lives before the kidnappings, the manner in which the North Korean government manipulated its citizens and Kim Jong Il's fascination with movies and movie making. He never lost site of the title of his book and told the story from the perspective of how all of life in North Korea was "produced" for a planned outcome. The book is compelling; the storytelling well-paced. When background is needed to understand an aspect of the stories of Shin and Choi it is given - at just the right time. Excellent story telling.
  • Sharon B. (Rome, GA)
    Stranger than Fiction
    This is the incredible true story of the kidnapping of a South Korean film director and his leading actress by Kim Jong-Il in the 1970's. At that time he was the son of the North Korean dictator and determined to market that closed society to the world through tightly-controlled award-winning films. The title refers not only to films but also to the fact that everything about life in the Hermit Kingdom was managed and directed to produce a certain image to its citizens. The author's description of the life of a typical North Korean should make anyone appreciate being born in just about any other country on earth. This was a very informative and well-researched book, hard to put down.
  • Barbara K. (Brooklyn, NY)
    Freedom is a Constant Vigil
    This well written book reads like a work of fiction because, to me, it seems so unbelievable. What makes it so compelling is that this unlikely tale is true! Kim Jong-il, the leader of North Korea, a movie buff, used cinema to shape the minds of the Korean people & used any means necessary to do so. He even kidnapped a South Korean couple, a movie producer & his actress wife & held them captive for 8 years until their escape. The North Korean people were brainwashed!

    This book is a must read because it is a reminder that we should all look at media with some skepticism for freedom is a constant vigil!
  • Poornima A. (Walpole, MA)
    Pulse-Pounding Account
    What do you do when you want the story of your entire country scripted down to the last detail and made available for ready consumption by the masses? If you are Kim Jong-Il, the now deceased Supreme Leader of North Korea, you turn to cinema.

    An avid movie fanatic, the future dictator discovered the magic of the medium in his early twenties, when he was head of the Ministry of Propaganda, and realized it afforded an easy way of mass indoctrination. The problem is that the North Korean regime needed access: to industry talent and know-how.

    Right across the border, movie director Shin Sang-Ok and actress Choi Eun-Ee were South Korea's "it" power couple, with the director's studio, Shin Film, producing hit after hit with his wife often as star. Their success had the unfortunate side effect of drawing Kim Jong-Il's attention, who subsequently arranged for them to be abducted and forced them to craft movies that served essentially as propaganda vehicles.

    This tight journalistic account is a pulse-pounding, cinematic narration of not just the couple's abduction and their eventual escape -- but of the North Korea of the 70s and 80s, a surreal canvas for a truly bizarre story. Proving that life can sometimes be stranger than fiction, A Kim Jong-Il Production is a riveting ride.
  • Martha P. (Issaquah, WA)
    Fun quick read
    One part biography, one part spy thriller, A Kim Jong Un production is a captivating book all the way till the end. And by "the end" I mean that the last part of the book was a bit of a drag after the climax. Otherwise a great read!
  • Nicole S. (Woodbury, MN)
    Pulling the curtain back on Oz
    I knew nothing about North Korea. Well, I knew about the recent "Interview" debacle- so reading about the Korean film industry at the same time as the debacle was fun. The book has a great pace, good details and great mixing of historical interviews with storytelling.

    I enjoyed the book because the details about the "Hermit Kingdom" were fascinating, horrifying and at times bizarre.

Beyond the Book:
  Propaganda and its Uses

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