May 18, 2022

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How N. Korean filmmakers turned to melodrama to win the youth for Juche

As attitudes began to change in the 1980s, DPRK filmmakers reached into the colonial past

Many North Korean defectors remember the late 1980s as a time when change was in the air. On the outside, their society looked solid as a rock, yet the public feeling was that this rock was going to turn into an avalanche pretty soon.

The situation in the Soviet Union was a primary trigger forcing North Koreans to doubt the stability of their society. After cooling their friendship with rapidly developing “revisionist” China, the DPRK reactivated relations with their old Soviet partner, and many North Koreans began to visit the USSR for business or study. These visits enabled them to earn sums of money which by North Korean standards were astronomic; allowing them to buy and send home lucrative commodities like fridges and fans.