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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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About this Book



This riveting non-fiction account of a North Korean kidnapping in the 1970s gives readers a wider look at the country's deeply dysfunctional operations.

A Kim Jong-Il Production might be set in the 1970s but this true story seems to be borrowed from today's headlines. This bizarre account of North Korea's wrongdoings was a winner with BookBrowse First Impression readers with 22 out of 23 reviews rated 4 or 5 stars.

Truth is 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 1970s. At that time Kim Jong-Il was the son of the North Korean dictator (and head of the Ministry of Propaganda) and determined to market that closed society to the world through tightly controlled award-winning films (Sharon B).

A glimpse at a surreal landscape

Reading this book is a bit like falling down Alice's rabbit hole. You have this strange disoriented sensation of disbelief and distortion of the truth. This true story takes you to a place so different than your reality that you find yourself rereading parts trying to understand the demented minds of North Korea's leaders and the power of propaganda and fear (Candace B). 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 (Sharon B). We come to see how North Korea has been living under the iron- fisted control of its leaders. It is very disturbing to learn the truth of how the citizens have been brainwashed to extreme ignorance and misunderstanding of what exists beyond the country's boundaries (Lynne B).

Life imitates art

The recent events with the Sony hacking make this story even more fascinating. It is hard to believe that it is true (Peggy H). This book will be especially appealing to the public in light of recent news headlines about North Korea's supposed involvement with Sony Pictures (Lynne B). Current politics makes it more relevant right now. Read and weep, Sony! The protagonists were sympathetic but the megalomania of Kim Jong-Il is remarkable (Barbara C). After reading The Orphan Master's Son, I wanted to know some facts about the Korean culture. The cruelty with which Shin and Choi were treated after each kidnapping is mind-boggling. But more amazing than the stoicism of their behavior is the complete freedom Kim Jong Il had in creating his film kingdom (Joan B).

Despite an occasional misgiving, a winner

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. (Barbara K). Fiction readers will relate this to The Orphan Master's Son and prefer the fictional weave of that book. Nonfiction readers will enjoy this account but might find its pace and resolution lacking (Carole R). I recommend reading The Orphan Master's Son along with this work of non-fiction. It follows along quite nicely. This is one of those books that makes it a little more difficult to sleep at night, knowing there exists a country with nuclear bomb capacity that despises the West (in particular the U.S.) and is controlled by an egomaniacal family who seemingly will stop at nothing to achieve their bizarre goals (Vicki C). I enjoyed the book because the details about the "Hermit Kingdom" were fascinating, horrifying and at times bizarre (Nicole S). 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 (Poornima A).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in February 2015, and has been updated for the February 2016 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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