Look out for Pulgasari!!!! From the bowels of North Korea and Kim Jong-il's long dead brain comes a creature so scary, he'll give you an aneurism.
|"Oh, rooook!!! Americans have|
very large penis!!!"
Not unlike the case of The Interview, the tale of how Pulgasari came to exist is far more entertaining than the film itself; it would make a great movie someday. In the late-70s, when Kim Il-sung was in power, Kim Jong-il was but a young megalomaniac who happened to have a great love for Japanese Kaiju (that's giant monster) movies. He wanted to spearhead the production of propaganda genre films in North Korea, and so he did exactly the logical thing... he had his favorite South Korean director – and his wife – abducted and held prisoner, so he could force the filmmaker to direct movies for the regime. The last – and most notorious – of these movies directed under imprisonment was Pulgasari: Kim Jong-il's dream-come-true of making a Godzilla knockoff for the glory of North Korea. Fortunately, imprisoned director Shin Sang-ok and his wife managed to escape North Korea during post-production on the film, when Kim Jong-il allowed the two to go to a film festival overseas, and they fled from the agents who were guarding them. They successfully found asylum in America, where Shin would go on to produce and/or direct such fine films as the 3 Ninjas sequels (which, while not exactly good, are at least better than being in a North Korean prison).
|"Beware!!! It's the giant|
Herpes monster with legs!!!
It's about as subtle as one would expect from producer Kim Jong-il, with dialogue like “Pulgasari, why can't you just exercise some self-control, before there is nothing left?” The film also preaches the North Korean talking point that individuals are unimportant compared to the whole collective, starting with a hilariously obvious lesson of an elderly man refusing to stop and drink water until his work for the good of the village is complete. What is odd about the narrative, though, is that the film's human villain is, as mentioned above, a totalitarian ruler who to viewers outside of North Korea will look a lot like a stand-in for Kim Jong-il or Kim Jong-un, but the film is all about how North Korean people are in charge of their own destiny. The film is clearly trying to imply that the present North Korean government is on the side of the people, and against tyrany... but it seems like it would be easy for the movie to backfire and cause viewers to see their own ruler in the villain. In fact, since the director was an imprisoned South Korean being forced to make the film against his will, one almost can't help but wonder if that was a subversive message that he buried in the narrative on purpose. I suppose that North Korea is such a propaganda-dominated state that viewers would be conditioned not to connect those dots, but it is nonetheless baffling viewing from our perspective.
|"Hey baby!!! I'm horny over here!!"|
-Christopher S. Jordan