December 05, 2023

Kim Jong Il: The man who brought love to North Korea’s silver screen

Romance in movies and books was strictly prohibited under leadership of Kim Il Sung

Among the many weird manifestations of Kim Il Sung’s tyranny was a prohibition of romance in the works of North Korean culture. While it was surely less significant than Kim's ban on market activity and religion, life in such a loveless cultural space would have been rather monotone for a regular citizen, to say the least.

As a result of this policy, at least one generation of North Korean people grew up without being exposed to fictional romance of any form. To these people, all artistic expressions of tenderness and physical contact on-screen and in literary works was associated with either the high political sentiments of characters, such as their devotion to the leader and the revolution, or via their relations with blood relatives, such as sisters and mothers.