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Kim Jong-Il: Greatest Filmmaker Of Our Time?

You know whom I turn to when I want to know about the art of moviemaking?

Well, none other than Kim Jong-il, the late North Korean dictator.

Back in 1973, before he was a tyrannical dictator who tortured his people, disposed of the ones unfortunate to be born handicapped, and routinely threatened nuclear war, “The Dear Leader” wrote a book called On the Art of Cinema. It’s an actual book. With words.

Apparently, he was North Korea’s “culture minister” at the time—a post given to him by his father, the founding prime dictator, Kim Il-Sung. The little guy, Kim-Jong-il, was a movie buff who owned a vault of 15,000 films.

One chapter of his book is titled, “A Film Without Music is Incomplete.”  Riveting stuff, this book. 

With a chapter title like that, does anyone think he ghostwrote The Sot-Weed Factor? Or remember the book from the A Dance To The Music of Time series called “Books Do Furnish A Room.” Terrible.

The Amazon blurb about On The Art of Cinema sounds about as riveting as the book’s title itself:

The cinema is now one of the main objects on which efforts should be concentrated in order to conduct the revolution in art and literature. The cinema occupies an important place in the overall development of art and literature. As such it is a powerful ideological weapon for the revolution and construction. Therefore, concentrating efforts on the cinema, making breakthroughs and following up success in all areas of art and literature is the basic principle that we must adhere to in revolutionizing art and literature.”

I have a hard time believing anyone has actually read this book. From reading the 9 reviews on Amazon, I’m doubting even the reviewers read the book.

Playing off my post last week about one-star Amazon reviews, I thought this was another hilarious review of Kim’s book:

First off, I’m a huge fan of Mr. Jung’s work.

“Let’s Work On Doubling the Output of the Red Harvest Tractor Factory #8!!!!” was a beautiful little film, all four hours of it. Great rainy day treat, if your work militia collectively owns a dvd player.

This book gets a little heavy on theory however, which is a missed opportunity in my opinion. While Jung’s theory on extracting socially realistic acting from kidnapped Japanese soap opera stars was helpful in my latest project, Jung’s technical work is so stunning that this book is merely a footnote to an awesome contribution to world cinema, if by world cinema you mean North Korean cinema.

My guess is that if anyone bought this from Amazon, along with Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the NSA has them on some type of watch list.

I think I’ll pass on Mr. Kim’s riveting book about cinema.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. In a sorta related note, The Orphan Master’s Son included a significant theme of Korean cinematic arts. Pretty absurd stuff. The book won a Pulitzer and is an incredible read. Political comedy and horrible acts of inhumanity all in one story. Highly recommend it.


    October 30, 2013
    • I’ve heard about this. Definitely want to read it some day.


      October 30, 2013
  2. Makes one think, huh? Just who ghost wrote the book? Could John Barth have a side job?


    October 30, 2013
  3. Reblogged this on Interesting Books and commented:
    Because I have a “mild” interest in all things North Korean, I found this review exceptionally funny. IWHile I have not read this work I have had the oppurtunity to read a lot of other works from North Korea some (and by that I mean most) were supposedly written by the dear leaders themselves. WHile I doubt this is true all I can say is that all official North Korean works are endlessly dry and terrible. YOu can feel nothing but pain at the fact that people are forced to read these somewhere.


    October 30, 2013
    • Another interesting post! I appreciate your wide range of literary topics. I love Jeff’s comment: You can feel nothing but pain at the fact that people are forced to read these somewhere.”


      October 30, 2013
  4. I also heard this man hit 18 holes in one in a round of golf.

    sounds like a true talent!


    November 2, 2013

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