September 30, 2023

City boy, country girl: How one North Korean film tackles the urban-rural divide

The story of a rich Pyongyang heir who falls for a patriotic girl from the provinces frankly showcases social inequality

While real North Korean society has always been stratified, official ideology presents all North Koreans as one happy family. Even if state media recognizes some differences, such as the rural-urban divide, these are framed as temporary considerations that can be overcome through revolutionary struggle and loyalty to the state.

North Korean films and other popular media often promote the theme of city youth flocking to rural communities with an aim to reform backwardness and eliminate discrepancies between urban and rural areas. The film “City Girl Marries a Village Fellow,” for example, presents volunteers from the city as enthusiasts who deeply respect people living in the provinces, who are essentially not much different from them.