Country of Orchards (1972) – Stockholm Screening

Simon Fowler - North Korean Film Screening

The author wearing a newly purchased piece of Scandinavian knitwear.

What a huge honour it was to introduce the North Korean documentary “Country of Orchards” (1972) at the Swedish Film Institute.

A huge thank you to those who came out and watched the pristine 35mm print from the Swedish archives. I like to imagine what Swedish films were sent the other way and found their way into Kim Jong-Il’s personal collection…

I also found out the incredible story of the 1,000 Swedish Volvos that were sent to North Korea in the ’70s and were never paid for.

I guess they must have thought that a 35mm print of a documentary about agriculture was more than enough.

Documentary: Kim Jong-Il and Stars (Part 1)

I know I promised the mother-lode  but I’m afraid it’s just going to have to be another taste. Here’s the first part (there are three in total) of a DPRK documentary about Kim Jong-Il’s efforts as a producer in North Korea.

Fascinating because: you see interviews with actors, some great pictures I’d not seen before and, best of all, it’s in English.

Happy Friday everyone.

Beijing screening of new North Korea doc “Hana, dul, sed”

The good folks at Koryo Tours are hosting the China premier of an Austrian produced documentary “Hana, dul, sed”. If you’re into a more factual look at the workings of North Korea head along to the Bookworm in Beijing (details below) on Tuesday 27th March at 7.30pm. The director will be along afterwards for a Q&A.

Here’s the blurb they sent out:

Join us for the China premiere of Hana, dul, sed … A documentary by Austrian filmmaker Brigitte Weich which gives us a subtle glimpse of the workings of Pyongyang society and the way ideology functions in its citizens’ work and personal lives.

It is a film about four young women, their friendship, dreams, hopes, and the passion for football they share. Being a member of the women’s national team is not only a way to make a living but gives the players prestige, popularity, and certain privileges, like larger food rations. To Ri Jong Hi, Ra Mi Ae, Jin Pyol Hi, and Ri Hyang Ok, however, football is not about fame or fortune but hope. “What is beautiful about soccer,” says one, “is that when you run onto the pitch, it’s like your heart opens up wide, like you could take on the world.”

The film screening (98 mins) will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s director.

Place: The Bookworm

Tel: (010) 6586 9507

Date: Tuesday 27th March

Time: 19:30

Cost: RMB 20 for members, RMB 30 for non-members (includes a free drink)


The Game of Their Lives

The Game of their Lives (2002) is a great documentary about the North Korean football team who won a lot of fans during their outstanding campaign in the 1966 World Cup in England.

Considered total outsiders, they managed to beat Italy 1-0 and even made it to the quarter-finals where they faced Portugal and the devastating Eusébio and came unstuck.

Not as politically loaded as some of the documentaries I’ve seen about the DPRK but it does serve as a good caveat to some of the sporting movies I’ll be writing about in the coming weeks.

Find parts twothreefourfivesixseven and eight on