When a South Korean delegation visiting North Korea to commemorate the October 4 Declaration put on special glasses at a 4D movie theater at Pyongyang’s Scientific Technology Exhibition Center, it hit the headlines. Another 4D movie theater has been built in Hyesan, the provincial capital of Ryanggang Province, and is popular with students and children.
“A 4D movie theater was constructed near the Victorious Battle of Pochonbo Memorial Tower in Hyesan,” said a Ryanggang Province source on November 27. “The theater mostly plays North Korean children’s films that run for 30 minutes each.”
Korean Central TV (KCTV) reported in 2015 that a 4D movie theater in Sinuiju had four screening rooms that could seat a total of 36 people. The theater in Hyesan is likely to be similar in appearance and size.
KCTV also reported that the theater was showing “Following the Track of Inertia,” “Protecting the Fatherland,” “Don’t Wait for Us,” “Winner,” “Sea World,” and “150 Million Years Ago,” and it’s likely the same movies will be shown at the Hyesan theater as there are few 4D movies produced by North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has placed a focus on expanding cultural and entertainment facilities in the country ever since he called for the construction of a “Strong and Civilized Socialist Country” in his first public speech as Supreme Leader in 2012.
After the speech, 4D theaters began construction in 12 provincial capitals and major cities. Donju (newly affluent middle class) quickly invested in the projects as they believed the Supreme Leader’s interest in the projects meant that there was money to be made.
“Ticket prices are expensive, but many kids and students watch movies so the donju are making a lot of money,” said a source in North Pyongan Province.
“The theaters are a bit unique because they are stand-alone and don’t have any restaurants or anything else attached to them. Those kinds of facilities would make the donju more money, which is something they surely know, so it’s a bit strange.”
While 4D movies are popular among children and students, they are expensive to watch, so poor families are unable to buy tickets. Such families complain about being excluded from such entertainment.
“A movie ticket costs 25 Chinese yuan. It’s expensive, so the movies are popular only among those kids and students who have money,” said a separate source in Ryanggang Province.
“Kids want to watch movies, but they’re so expensive. Country kids and their parents could never afford them.”