Screenwriter: Ui Ung Yong

A Korean feature film “Two Families in Haeun-dong” produced in 1996 and the other “Myself in the Distant Future” in 1997 gave deep emotions to the Korean people.

The former shows that one can only enjoy happiness in family when he devotes everything for the country and people, not for only his family. And the latter deals with the issue what valuable wealth younger generation should create for the country.

It gained a gold torch light prize at the 6th Pyongyang International Film Festival for its high ideological and artistic value.

The two scenarios were created by Ui Ung Yong in his early 30s.

He, who was specially interested in literature in his childhood, wrote his first scenario “Days at University” when he worked at an institute in local area as an assistant.

His first work won the prize at a contest for its good theme and value in education. This led him to a professional scenario writer.

He has persistently strived to work out scenarios dealing with issues urgently requested in public, to give answers with plain but meaningful stories.

He has become a Kim Il Sung Prize winner at 33 for creating excellent works reflecting the requirement of the era and the revolution. He has made persistent efforts to create many good works such as “People in Jagang Province” (Part 1 and 2), “Firelight”, “Fraternal Feeling”, “Wave of Songgang” (Part 1 and 2) and “Let People Appreciate You” in a bid to repay for the trust and hope of the Party.

Another feature film written by him will soon be on screen to make a hit.


As the Rodong Sinum continues to put up articles of a film-related nature, I will try and dig them up and post them here. I’ve not come across any of this guy’s films, but it’s possible that their English translation of the titles is different to what I have.

*Note: Gag Halfrunt pointed out, quite rightly, that one of the films referenced is Myself in the Distant Future”. Good work!

Kim Jong Il and the Development of Cinema Art

 As reported on the North Korea Tech blog, Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea and North Korea’s main national daily, launched an English-language website over the last couple of days with quite a large amount of content.

It’s not been up and running for long but I decided to take glance to see if there were any articles on the subject of cinema that had made their way online and low and hehold, a journalist by the name of Han Chung Hyok had produced a little elegy about the Kim Jong Il’s influence on North Korea’s cinema.  The full article is reproduced below, but it’s interesting to note that in 2011 he provided “on the spot guidance” for a film called Wishes that premiered in Pyongyang in December. The site also has an article on that film, here.

Kim Jong Il and the Development of Cinema Art

Cinema artists of the Korean Film Studio miss leader Kim Jong Il ever so much. All the more so now that he passed away.

Their unforgettable memories date back to 1965 when the feature film “The Path to Awakening” was in the making under his guidance. Those were the days when Korean cinema artists were trained to remain always true to the Workers’ Party and to the idea of Juche.

For nearly half a century since then, busy as he was with the Party and state affairs, he gave energetic guidance to the development of Korean cinema art.

Under his loving care many famous cinema artists including movie stars were produced.

Among them are Choe Chang Su, labor hero and People’s Actor, Kim Ryong Rin, winner of Kim Il Sung Prize and People’s Actor, and Hong Yong Hui[star of The Flower Girl], People’s Actress.

They all recalled in deep emotion that leader Kim Jong Il would come to the film studio in the morning or in the evening and sometimes deep at night and at the small hours of the morning, discussing on the scenario and guiding actors and actresses how to do their part perfectly.

They also remembered the days when under his energetic guidance they produced the multi-part serial “Star of Korea” in the 1970s and 1980s, and the multi-part serial “The Nation and Destiny” and such masterpieces as “A Schoolgirl’s Diary” and “Pyongyang Nalpharam” in the 1990s and 2000s.

In 2011, he guided production of the feature film “Wish.” He gave the core for the scenario, personally picked up leading actors and actresses, thus bringing this film to perfection. It was the last feature film put out under his personal guidance.

The studio has produced more than 900 movies from 1965 to 2011. But the studio has not yet produced any piece portraying leader Kim Jong Il. They all feel sorry and guilty. Now they are all out to produce new masterpieces.

Han Chung Hyok


Kim Jong Il: Director

On the spot guidance

Kim Jong-Il (1941-2011) probably did more than anyone to advance the North Korean film industry. Take from that what you will.

Another interesting tidbit emerged in the torrent of news surrounding the death of Kim Jong-Il: Dr. Francois-Xavier Roux, French neurosurgeon who treated Kim Jong Il in 2008 after his stroke, reported having very routine discussions with Kim in an interview with the AP.

I think he was profoundly Francophile. Maybe it’s no accident that they chose a French medical team. Obviously he wanted to establish political ties with France. He was not hiding it. He also knew French cinema very well. I was pretty surprised. He knew French wines pretty well. We were talking about the differences between Bourgogne and Bordeaux, etc. So yes, we had normal discussions.

A quick note about the above photo, a description of which I found on a news agencies website:

In this March 1979 photo from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, distributed by Korea News Service, leader Kim Jong Il gives advice at the shooting of “An Jung-gun Shoots Ito Hirobumi,” a narrative film.

North Korean DVDs

The eternal problem for any North Korean movie enthusiast (although sometimes I feel like I’m the only one out there!) is how to track the films down.

From sites like Wikipedia and IMDb (and dare I say it, this humble site here) it’s possible to find out information about a huge number of North Korean titles. But with mistranslations, inaccuracies about dates it’s not always possible to get an definitive idea about what’s out there.

Far and away the most asked question when people write into the site is how can I get my hands on North Korean movies. Well, if you don’t live in Pyongyang, work at an academic institution that has the movies or live near the Korean Film Archive the best option is to visit the website North Korea Books.

Run by one Mr Nicholas Mercury, the site has possibly the largest selection of North Korean DVDs anywhere on the web. As the website’s name suggests, you’ll also be able to find an extensive array of books – including Kim Jong-il’s On The Art of the Cinema and Korean Film Art, the definitive book on North Korean movies (well, until I get around to publishing one, that is!).

It’s a labour of love for Nicholas who spends considerable time and effort tracking down new and exciting titles. Here’s what he said about his last expedition in China to track down all 20 parts of Nameless Heroes:

NAMELESS HEROES Parts 1 to 18 (I already had Parts 19 and 20): The person I hire in Beijing to do film related research and Korean to English translations found someone in Wuhan who had these available for sale (I had been searching for years…).  The problem was that this seller REFUSED to sell to anyone Chinese and would only sell to me if I went there and purchased from him in person.  So I had to take the train there, then pay for a guide in Wuhan since I cannot speak any Mandarin, then meet the seller and pay his not inexpensive price for each of the 18 parts (sold separately of course).  Due to it being some holiday I then discovered that no trains were available to return to Beijing so ended up stranded there until forced to buy a plane ticket a few days later.  Then upon returning to Canada, WEEKS of work to correct and improve the quality of the original material (some parts were too dark, others had audio/video synchronization problems etc…the usual DPRK quality problems).”

Although the titles are not cheap, when you consider that the only other options are going without these movies altogether you can understand why I found it entirely necessary to purchase as many as I can.

Hopefully 2012 will be an important year for this site, and with the help of Nicholas and the countless DVDs I will be purchasing in the near future, you can expect some interesting insights into the world of North Korean cinema and some blog posts on films rarely seen outside the DPRK.