Focus on North Korea

See North Korea from two different perspectives – one a comedic mini-series, the other a rock music documentary — starting this Thursday, March 8, on subscription streamer Sundance Now.

The comedy is France’s Kim Kong, based on the true story of the 1978 kidnapping of a South Korean filmmaker and an actress, his former wife, by North Korea, which then forced them to make movies together for several years. The last of these was the Godzilla-like Pulgasari.

In Kim Kong, a French filmmaker gets abducted by an Asian dictatorship and is then forced to do a reimagining of King Kong written by the country’s dictator. The plot: “A giant gorilla, awakened by the US Government, is turned to the People’s cause by a simple farm girl and the undying flame of socialism.”

The story unfolds over three episodes, each about 45 minutes.

We’ve got a Kim Kong trailer for you in French, but even better, it’s followed by Pulgasari itself, with English subtitles.

 

The rock documentary, which has its own humorous touches, is Liberation Day, a Latvian/Norwegian/Slovenian co-production that explores how the Slovenian rock group Laibach, formed 35 years earlier in communist Yugoslavia, managed to perform in PyongYang, North Korea, during the country’s most revered annual holiday:

“Confronting strict ideology and cultural differences, the band struggles to get their songs through the needle’s eye of censorship before they can be unleashed on an audience never-before-exposed to alternative rock music. Meanwhile, propaganda loudspeakers are being set up at the border between the two Koreas, and a countdown to war is announced.”

Here’s a trailer for the 100-minute film:

We also wanted to show Laibach’s PyongYang renditions of “A Sound of Music” or “Across the Universe,” but those weren’t embeddable, so enjoy the following number…and especially the audience reactions, or lack thereof.

Finally, laughing at (with?) North Korea got us nostalgic for the Seth Rogen/James Franco flick The Interview, which was so very controversial less than four years ago. You can stream it for $2.99 SD/$3.99 HD from Amazon or other providers.

Sundance Now, offering independent films, documentaries and TV series, costs $6.99 monthly or $59.99 annually after a seven-day free trial. It’s available at sundancenow.com and via iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Xbox, Fire TV or Chromecast.

 

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About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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