Articles & Notes, Ideas & Personal creations — January 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm

North Korea’s Kim Jong-il: a feature film on the “iron-fisted” leader?

“Hey, so Kim Jong-Il is dead. Do you think they will make a movie on him?

No.

Why not?

Because Sacha Baron Cohen doesn’t look Korean.”

Sacha Noam Baron Cohen (born 13 October 1971) is an English stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and voice artist. He is mostly known for writing and playing three unorthodox fictional characters Ali G, Borat, and Bruno.

In his routines, Baron Cohen’s characters interact with unsuspecting people who do not realize they are being set up for comic situations and self-revealing ridicule. His last project – “The Dictator” has Cohen playing a fictional dictator General Aladeen (yet most people know its a slightly modified version of Muammar Gaddafi).

Cohen might be a great comedian (who’s jokes I simply don’t understand), but the trailer for his new upcoming film “the Dictator” looks awful. Terrible. Pathetic. I couldn’t find anything funny, and therefore I doubt I’d watch the film. I did however watch his “Bruno” film, and I was so disgusted, I couldn’t even watch it till the end. Now, what came to me later is…Kim Jong-Il.

First it was Kaddafi, then Kim Jong-Il. Would there be a film made on the North Korean leader?

Background:
Kim Jong-il (16 February 1941 – 17 December 2011) was the supreme leader of North Korea (DPRK) from 1994 to 2011. He succeeded his father and founder of the DPRK Kim Il-Sung following the elder Kim’s death in 1994. Kim Jong-il was the General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea, and the supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, the fourth-largest standing army in the world (today, some sources claim the largest in the world).

In April 2009, North Korea’s constitution was amended to refer to him implicitly as the “supreme leader”. He was also referred to as the “Dear Leader”, “our Father”, “the General”, and “Generalissimo”, among others. His son Kim Jong-un was promoted to a senior position in the ruling Workers’ Party and is his successor.

In 2010, he was ranked 31st in Forbes Magazine’s List of The World’s Most Powerful People. The North Korean government announced his death on 19 December 2011. Kim’s death was announced in an emotional statement on national television. According to official reports, Kim died of a heart attack at the age of 69, during his train trip to the country’s regions. Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in August 2008 and may have also had pancreatic cancer, according to South Korean news reports.

North Korea under Kim Jong-Il
“Powerful and Prosperous Nation”…A small, hungry and nuclear-armed nation of zombies. The most isolated country in the world. About 300 000 people (even more by now) have escaped North Korea in the past 10 years or so. Kim Jong-Il turned the country into one big concentration camp.

In the 1990s North Korea faced significant economic disruptions, including a series of natural disasters, economic mismanagement and serious resource shortages after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. These resulted in a shortfall of staple grain output of more than 1 million tons from what the country needs to meet internationally accepted minimum dietary requirements.

The North Korean famine known as “Arduous March” resulted in the deaths of between 300,000 and 800,000 North Koreans per year during the three year famine, peaking in 1997.

According to a 2004 Human Rights Watch report, the North Korean government under Kim was “among the world’s most repressive governments”, having up to 200,000 political prisoners according to U.S. and South Korean officials, and no freedom of the press or religion, political opposition or equal education: “Virtually every aspect of political, social, and economic life is controlled by the government.” Even when Kim died, the people crying in broad daylight on the streets of Pyongyang did it with fear of being shot immediately, if they don’t do what “the cameras need to show the world”.

Okay, what about the movie?
So far, nothing. Like the joke in the beginning of the post says – “Cohen doesn’t look Korean”, so he won’t be playing Kim, if the movie ever gets made. Maybe a joint collaboration from South Korean studios and Chinese studios can make something happen, although I doubt they will ever do it.

What’s with the story?
At first, I thought the film should concentrate mostly on Kim Jong-Il himself, as there’s not much info on the guy, and there are people, I am sure, who would want to know more about the man who ruled the nuclear-armed nation with an iron fist. But then I thought of a better Idea – divide the film into 2 parts, one part would be about Kim (government, power, ruling, evil so to speak), and another part – a simple North Korean family (representing usual Korean people, good) which tries to escape the isolated hell of North Korea. The two parts never merge, as the film would show “two parts” of North Korea, and possibly give viewers an inside look of what’s it like to live in the world’s most isolated country.

Any remarks that should be used in the film?
I’ve gathered some of these remarks, as story should, in my opinion, be as accurate as possible, for the most part. Below are some of the remarks in no particular order.

  • Kim jong-Il suffered a stroke in 2008, and was not seen in public for several months.
  • Kim jong-IlĀ  liked Konyak.
  • Kim’s relations with his father, after he died.
  • North Korea has one of the biggest armies in the world.
  • Famine in North Korea, executions, concentration camps, and strict governmental policy.
  • Kim’s personal life, his “mistresses”, etc.
  • Kim had a pteromerhanophobia (fear of flying), and always traveled by private armored train for state visits to Russia and China.
  • Kim referred to himself as an Internet expert (this sounds funny, but still).
  • Although Kim enjoyed many foreign forms of entertainment, according to former bodyguard Lee Young Kuk, he refused to consume any food or drink not produced in North Korea, with the exception of wine from France. His former chef Kenji Fujimoto, however, has stated that Kim sometimes sent him around the world to purchase a variety of foreign delicacies.
  • Kim was said to be a huge film fan, owning a collection of more than 20,000 video tapes and DVDs. He reportedly was also a fan of such movies as Friday 13th, Rambo, Godzilla. He also loved Elizabeth Taylor’s films, and Hong Kong action cinema.
  • Kim reportedly enjoyed basketball. Former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ended her summit with Kim by presenting him with a basketball signed by NBA legend Michael Jordan.
  • Show Kim’s death, following funerals (with all these fake cries).
  • North Korea called on its people to rally behind new leader Kim Jong-un and protect him as “human shields” while working to solve the “burning issue” of food shortages by upholding the policies of his late father, Kim Jong-il.

Epilogue
So, I somehow doubt there will be a film shot on Kim Jong-il, however I just might be wrong, as right now all the stuff with North Korea is hot in the news, and this just might be the thing that Hollywood will pick up, as they’re simply out of any fresh, new ideas for movies.

I personally think such a movie should be made, however not like Cohen’s “The Dictator”, but in a lot more serious tone.

There were a lot of documentaries on North Korea (you can watch one here, and read review on another one here), and I’ve never heard of a feature film. Maybe, after Kim’s passing, its time to fill this void. Not for the sake of earning money of course…



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