Before becoming the world’s most notorious dictator, Kim Jong-Il ran North Korea’s Ministry for Propaganda and all its film studios. Underwhelmed by the pool of talent available to him he took drastic steps, ordering the kidnap of Choi Eun-Hee (Madame Choi)—South Korea’s most famous actress—and her ex-husband Shin Sang-Ok, the country’s most famous filmmaker. But as Madame Choi and Shin Shang-Ok begin to make North Korea’s greatest films, they hatch a plan of escape worthy of a blockbuster Hollywood ending. A Kim Jong-Il Production is that rarest of books: a wildly entertaining, cunningly told story that offers a rare glimpse into a nation still wrapped in mystery.
“Gripping . . . A Kim Jong-Il Production tells the absurd, harrowing, and true story of Choi and Shin's ordeal, which reveals the importance of film as propaganda to the North Korean regime.”—Esquire
“Paul Fischer's book A Kim Jong-Il Production is a highly illuminating deep dive on the middle Kim's cinematic obsessions and the film arms race between the two Koreas.”—The Washington Post
“The 1978 abductions of the South Korean actress Choi-Eun-He and her ex-husband, the director Shin Sang-Ok, in Hong Kong is the true crime at the center of Paul Fischer's gripping and surprisingly timely new book.”—The New York Times
“An entertaining new book . . . details how [Shin and Choi] finally seized their chance to seek asylum . . . A stupefying, novelistic read.”—The Boston Globe
“Fischer's entertaining narrative paints an arresting portrait of a North Korean 'theater state,' forced to enact the demented script of a sociopathic tyrant.”—Publishers Weekly
“Exhaustively researched, highly engrossing chronicle of the outrageous abduction of a pair of well-known South Korean filmmakers by the nefarious network of North Korea's Kim Jong-Il.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Reviews from Goodreads
A Photograph on the Blue House Lawn
Twenty Years Earlier
On May 16, 1962, Shin Sang-Ok was standing at the center of a party at the South Korean Presidential Residence. He was the talk of...