September 27, 2023

The Flower Girl: How a North Korean propaganda film achieved international fame

Kim Jong Il’s operatic passion project remains a nostalgic classic in China and elsewhere, 50 years after its release

State propaganda and cinema are inseparable in North Korea, with former leader Kim Jong Il calling film a “powerful ideological weapon for the revolution.” More often than not, this philosophy produces dry, didactic movies that receive little attention outside the country.

And yet, a handful of North Korean films display real technical competence and a clear passion for moviemaking; these works of state-produced entertainment are actually entertaining and even occasionally moving.