by WorldTribune Staff, July 10, 2018
South Korea has approved rare screenings of nine North Korean films during the upcoming Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN) near Seoul.
The cultural breakthrough is in the spirit of relaxed tensions following the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, inheritor of the communist dynasty launched under his grandfather Kim Il-Sung.
Strict national security laws have prohibited North Korean propaganda or films being shown in South Korean since the Korean War. Conservative analysts now banned by mainstream South Korean media outlets warn that “Red unification” between the two Koreas is coming under the administration of leftist President Moon Jae-In.
Three feature films and six shorts produced by North Korea between the 1980s and 2016 will be shown during the 10-day BIFAN festival, which begins on July 12 in Bucheon, west of Seoul.
The North’s films that will be shown at the festival include the 2016 drama hit “The Story of Our Home,” about three orphaned siblings trying to stay together, and “Comrade Kim Goes Flying,” a 2012 romantic comedy about a miner pursuing her dream to become an acrobat, according to a report by the Japan Times. “The Story of Our Home” won the best movie award at the Pyongyang International Film Festival in 2016.
Festival organizers have also sought to invite several North Korean filmmakers but are waiting for official approval.
Though it is an impoverished nation with a history of brutal human rights violations, North Korea has a vibrant movie industry. Most of its productions, however, are propaganda films extolling the ruling Kim family and its regime.
Kim Jong-Un’s late father and predecessor Kim Jong-Il was an avid movie fan who even ordered a 1978 kidnapping of a famed South Korean actress and a film director. The pair escaped in 1986 after making several movies in the North.
Although South Korean videos, films and music is in high demand in North Korea, their airing and distribution are strictly prohibited and severely punished.
Public display of the North’s culture or propaganda in the South requires authorization from several state bodies, including Seoul’s unification ministry and spy agency.
Possession of publications or other materials produced in the North can be a criminal offense under the South’s anti-communist National Security Law.