If you have not read the first part of this review – Korean Feature Film Studio (1) – I recommend that you do so before reading this part.
In the knowledge that the North Korean film industry only produces patriotic and revolutionary historical epics (no need for the masses to see Kim Jong-il’s private collection or anything else) the film sets at the studio are restricted to an ancient Korea village, a 1920s Japanese street, a 1950s South Korean street, a traditional rural village and a number of seemingly unrelated European buildings.
On the first set (the ancient Korean village) visitors can hire, for a Euro, traditional Korean costumes and wander around the set. A group of North Koreans, visiting at the same time as us, found westerners in traditional Korean costume rather amusing and the tables turned a bit to have them photographing us rather than the other way round.
All the sets, with the exception of the South Korean street, were fairly representative of the real thing. The 1950s South Korean street rather amusingly depicts a brothel, massage parlour, an STD clinic and such like – exactly how North Koreans depict the South and in particular Seoul which has lost its way and given in to the wickednesses and vices of the United States.
While most foreign imperialist parts in movies are played by over made up North Koreans a few US defectors living in Pyongyang have acted in a number of films to high acclamation from local film goers. Getting suitably skilled people for his films was not a problem for Kim Jong-il. There is a famous instance in the late 1970s of him kidnapping an actress from Hong Kong and when her ex-husband, a film director, went to Hong Kong in search of his ex-wife he was also abducted and brought to North Korea. They managed to escape, but not until 1986 and after staring in and directing numerous films including Pulgasari, a rip-off of Godzilla.
Unfortunately no filming was taking place when we visited and the visit did not include a visit to post production, editing or any other parts of the complex. One can, reasonably, conclude from this that such facilities are basic and our time was better spent visiting something that portrayed the Leaders and country in a better, more positive light.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on my trip to Pyongyang. I suggest you continue with my next entry – The Pyongyang Embroidery Institute – or to start the loop at the beginning go to – Pyongyang – A Capital City Unlike any Other