No Love Scenes or Love Triangles in NK Dramas

“No love triangles in North Korean dramas?”

The Korean Film Council in Seoul has released its initial findings from an analysis of North Korean films and TV dramas made between 2000 – 2006. In contrast with the past, films made during this period portrayed real life situations including husband-wife conflicts and generational differences. The analysis was undertaken in order to establish a North Korean film synthesis intelligence network.

Specifically, “Do Not Wake my Mother (“엄마를 깨우지 말아,” 2002),” emphasizes equality of the sexes, and criticizes the authoritarian attitude of men in the home through the characters Jang Young Soon, a female scientist, and her on-screen husband Kim Sung Ho, an architect.

“Family (가정, 2001),” broadcast by Chosun Central Television, gave North Korean citizens quite a shock as it directly portrayed immorality and tension between couples, themes which had hitherto been prohibited. The report revealed that the drama, which was produced as a 10-part series, stopped after the 9th episode in order to quell the shock of citizens, without resolution of a couple’s problems who were on the brink of a divorce.

The report pointed out that, “TV series that honestly depict a myriad of lives of citizens have been produced.” “2nd-grade students (2학년생, 2002)” is a series which protrays the reprehensible behavior ementary school students. “The Okryu Landscape (옥류풍경, 2001)” portrays Pyongyang cold noodles made at the Okryu Restaurant, and “Seagulls (갈매기, 2000)” is based on the friendship of dozens of synchronized swimmers.”

However, the report explained that there are clear restrictions on expression of affection in North Korean dramas.

“The first kiss scene to appear in a North Korean film was in the 1980s,’ “Snow Melting in the Springtime (봄날의 눈석이).” Excessive exposure of a woman’s body or love scenes are also not easily portrayed. Drugs or corrupt cadres are also unacceptable themes.”

The report further explained, “In North Korean dramas, triangular relationships do not exist. The affection between a man and a woman is an issue between the two people and it is difficult to go against the decree that triangular relationships are not to be permitted.”

However it pointed out that “among the North Korean youths, there is quite a bit of interest in capitalist movies, so the regulation of foreign movies is especially strong. In particular, love scenes between men and women or scenes that elicit curiosity about streets and lives in a capitalist nation are to be avoided.”

The report explained that in the North, movies are not artistic creations, but have a stronger propagandistic trait. “Movies are used as a propagandistic tool, and even Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il have had great interests in movies.”

In particular the report noted that “starting fron the 1970s, production of films depicting the achievements of the two leaders began. ‘The Mount Baekdu Creation Team,’ which was established in February 1967, cinematically portrayed Kim Il Sung’s revolutionary history.”

“Since the mid-1970s, works such as ‘Lady Manager (처녀 지배인),’ which describes the movement and the results of the Three Revolutionary Teams, was released and subsequently, until the 1980s, works that portrayed the happiness of citizens living in ‘our socialist society’ became the conventional theme of North Korean movies.”

“Starting in the 1990s, works that reflected a broader breadth of themes, such as the affection between men and women, the conflicts between urban and rural areas, and generational differences, as well as actions or expressions of affection that had previously been difficult to see on the screen have increased.”

“After Kim Il Sung’s death, in order to block the loosening of consciousness pursuant to the departure of the Kim Jong Il era, films began to reemphasize the revolutionary tradition. The works focusing on the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il revolutionary achievements were produced in order to strengthen the spiritual training of citizens.”