In a follow-up on its first presentation of North Korean cinema in 2008, The Korea Society is presenting the second installment in its Films from the North series. The four films—Traces of Life, The Tale of Chun Hyang, Wŏlmi Island and The Flower Girl—convey a view of the world that epitomizes the ideological underpinnings of the North Korean state. Within this context, the tales—of duty, self–sacrifice, imperialist cruelty and heroism in battle—are told with genuine feeling and artistry.
Screening every Thursday evening in May (May 7—28), all films will be shown at The Korea Society (950 Third Avenue, Eighth Floor, New York City; building entrance on the southwest corner of 57th Street and Third Avenue).
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-759-7525, ext.323.
Special Feature Series Schedule:
Thursday, May 7
Traces of Life
6:00 PM Series' Opening Reception
Introduction by Suk–Young Kim, professor of theatre, UC Santa Barbara
6:40 PM Traces of Life (1989)
- Directed by Jo Kyong-sun
- Starring O Mi–ran, Paek Yong–hui and Ri Won–bok
This is the story of a hardworking farmer who transmutes her grief over the death of her husband into a love of country and raises her collective farm's rice production to unprecedented levels. It exemplifies the North Korean "hidden heroes" genre: a type of film made mostly during the 1980s and '90s, which feature simple country people bringing life to barren land.
Thursday, May 14, 6:30 PM
The Tale of Chun Hyang (1980)
Directed by Yu Won–jun, Yun Ryong-gyu
Starring Choe Sun–gyu, Kim son-yong, Ko Jong-hwan and Kim Yong–suk
The Tale of Chun Hyang is a socialist retelling of Chunhyangjŏn, a Korean folktale about the romance and intrigue that blossom between a kisaeng's daughter and a magistrate's son. While retaining the story's original Confucian ethic, The Tale of Chun Hyang transforms the story's heroine from a cultured court entertainer to a tough, working–class woman.
Thursday, May 21, 6:30 PM
Wŏlmi Island (1982)
Directed by Cho Kyong-sun
Starring Cho Kyong–sun, Choe Chang–su, Choe Tae–hyon and Yun Su–gyong
In this gripping and imaginative war movie a small troop of North Korean soldiers, armed with just four guns between them, defeats General Douglas MacArthur and 50,000 American soldiers at Inch'on.
Thursday, May 28, 6:30 PM
The Flower Girl (1972)
Directed by Choi Ik–kyu and Pak Hak
Starring Hong Yong–hee, Pak Hwa-son, Kim Ryong-rin and Ryu Hu-nam
Adapted from an anti-imperialist opera from the 1930s, The Flower Girl is a tragic story of a family cruelly exploited by the Japanese colonial authorities and a clarion call for the Korean people to fight for the socialist revolution. The film was so popular when it was released domestically that Hong Yong–hee's picture was printed on North Korean currency.
About the presenter:
Suk-Young Kim is Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her research has been acknowledged by the International Federation for Theatre Research New Scholar’s Prize (2004), the American Society for Theater Research Fellowship (2006), and the Library of Congress Kluge Fellowship (2006-7), and her work has appeared in Theatre Research International, Theatre Journal and The Drama Review. She is currently working on a book project titled Illusive Utopia: Theater and Film in North Korea, which explores how the state produced propaganda performances, intersect with everyday life practice in North Korea.