Berlinale: Programme


Film file

Panorama

The Lovers and the Despot

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In the 1950s director Shin Sang-ok and actress Choi Eun-hee were the dream couple of South Korea’s film industry. Their joint career ended in divorce in 1978. Whilst on a business trip to Hong Kong, Choi was abducted by the North Korean secret service – by order of North Korea’s film-loving president Kim Jong-il. A few months later, her ex-husband Shin was also kidnapped. While Choi was treated like a guest of honour in North Korea, Shin was imprisoned until he decided to feign compliance with the regime. After five years of incarceration, he was reunited with Choi and appointed head of the North Korean film authority because Kim Jong-il was determined to shine in the international arena. Together, the actress and the director made films that also screened internationally. Soon they were considered to be so loyal and true to the party line that they were even sent to attend festivals abroad. But, as experienced filmmakers, they wrote a twist into the screenplay of their lives which took Kim Jong-il by surprise. Now, Choi Eun-hee tells their incredible story with the help of audio tapes that she and Shin recorded during their time in North Korea and managed to smuggle abroad.

United Kingdom 2016, 95 min

by

Rob Cannan, Ross Adam

with

Choi Eun-hee
Shin Sang-ok

World Sales

Submarine Entertainment