Secret recordings of the late Kim Jong-il released in a new documentary unmask the North Korean dictator’s disappointment with his kingdom.
The documentary “The Lovers and the Despot” tells the tale of South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee and director Shin Sang-ok, who were kidnapped by North Korean operatives in 1978 and forced to make movies for Kim Jong-il, a renowned film buff, CNN reports. Reminiscent of the plot of “Misery,” Kim had the pair abducted because he was their biggest fan.
When Kim died in 2011, he reportedly left behind a collection of around 30,000 films. His collection is said to have consisted of every Oscar-winning film and a lot of pornography. Some of his favorites included “Friday the 13th,” “Rambo,” and “Godzilla.” He was passionate about movies, but the films produced domestically often left him unsatisfied.
“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,” Kim wrote in a treatise on culture.
Choi and Shin made 17 films for the oppressive dictator, who apologized for kidnapping them and offered them money but refused to release them. Unbeknownst to Kim, the duo used a hidden audio recorder to secretly tape meetings. The pair later escaped Kim’s grip and defected to the U.S., and the tapes were leaked to the U.S. Department of State in 1985.
In the recordings, Kim can be heard criticizing his country’s people and the North Korean film industry in his rarely-heard high-pitched voice.
“Why are there so many crying scenes? All of our films have crying scenes. This isn’t a funeral, is it?” Kim asked.
“We don’t have any films that get into festivals,” he said.
“Why do all of our films have the same ideological plots?” he further inquired. “There is nothing knew about them,” he said, expressing his frustration.
Kim also acknowledged South Korea’s technological superiority, a reality that the North Korean government worked hard to hide from the citizenry. “In South Korea, they have better technology. They are like college students, but we are just in nursery school. People here are so close-minded.”
The North Korean dictator also made jokes about his height, noting that he was smaller than a midget.
The recordings highlight many of Kim’s insecurities, which he likely passed onto his son. Kim Jong-un is rumored to be just as paranoid as his father.
The recordings of Kim Jong-il offer insight into the leader’s thoughts and possibly those of his son, making them the tapes valuable assets to the American intelligence community.
“Hours and hours of recordings of Kim Jong Il speaking relatively freely would be an intelligence windfall for the American government, since we’d never heard him speak before, much less privately,” former State Department North Korea specialist David Straub told CNN.
The tapes are said to highlight the North Korean regime’s isolation, the power of the Kim family, and the inability of state officials to challenge crazy ideas, demonstrating the danger of Kim Jong-un and his growing collection of nuclear weapons.
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