August 13, 2022

Short satirical films are a window into North Korean society

The genre eschews big social topics in favor of humorous, entertaining critiques of everyday problems

When talking with North Korean refugees, I have noticed that they often reference short comedy films to illustrate aspects of the country’s society. They might, for instance, cite a film about girls who wear the same dress, or one about two passengers with similar bags, to punctuate a point about the lack of product variety in the DPRK.

In most cases, these defectors do not recall the titles or directors of these shorts, as they would for feature films. What lingers in their memories is the sharp satirical angle and their enjoyment of the movie, a testament to the uniqueness of this film genre in North Korean cinema.