• Contemporary Cinema Research Institute

The NRF Collaborative Research Grant 2019~2022

International Exchange-Relations History of North Korean Cinema: 1945~2011


Principal Director
Ham, Chung-Beom
(Professor, Hanyang University, Korea) 



Aims and Research Themes



  For a long time, North Korea's image as an “isolated kingdom” has been gradually fixed in the West. Accordingly, the study of North Korea was also focused on identifying the specificity of North Korean society, which was isolated from the outside world, and tended to presuppose the collapse of North Korean society. Recently, however, there is a growing awareness that a new view of North Korea is needed. Despite the sanctions of the international community, the fact that North Korea is still in diplomatic relations with more than 160 countries suggests a new possibility to dynamically examine North Korean society from a multifaceted perspective, focusing on international exchanges and relations.

  Accordingly, this study, “International Exchange and Related History of North Korean Films: 1945 ~ 2011,” attempts to track how North Korea has interacted and connected with the international community through films through the eras of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. In other words, the history of international exchanges and relations in North Korean films will be explored to expand the scope of research on North Korean film history, while at the same time strengthening its substance.



Chung, Tae-soo 
(Professor, Hanyang University, Korea)

Jeon, Young-Sun 
(Professor, Konkuk University, Korea)

Lee, Hyun-Joong 
(Professor, Koonsan University, Korea)


Postdoctoral Researcher

Kim, Bo-Hyun

(Korea University, Korea)

Lim, In-Jae

(Hanyang University, Korea)

Research Assistant

Lee, Jun-Yeob
(Ph.D. Student, Hanyang University, Korea)

Yoo, Chang-Yeon 
(Ph.D. Student, Hanyang University, Korea) 
Kwak, Shin-Yo  
(Ph.D. Student, Hankuk University of
Foreign Studies, Korea) 




(1) Cold War and System Construction (1945 ~ 1972)

  At this time, the international order was reorganized into a “cold war” system, and North Korea set the national system as its first task, incorporating all culture and arts, including film, under political power. Therefore, it is the most important task to consider how South Korea, which had maintained intense competition, was represented in North Korean films. In addition to research, the activities of filmmakers in North and North Korea are also set as important research tasks. The Soviet Union, which spared no support to the North Korean film industry, is also important. In particular, what kind of discourse did Soviet films form in North Korea at the time of the thawing period, and what was the wave of expatriate students from Moscow North Korean film? In the case of China, this study examines the exchange screening of the two countries, focusing on the “Wild Moon Period” before the Cultural Revolution. How the US and Japan were depicted in North Korean films as the representative of imperialism is also set as a major inquiry task.




(2) Detente and Kim Il-sung's Monolitic
Leadership System
 (1972 ~ 1994)


  During this period, the atmosphere of detente was relieved, and in North Korea, Kim Jong Il began to control the film industry. Therefore, it is an important task for South Korea to examine how South Korea was represented in the action films produced in North Korea during this period, and what activities Shin Sang-ok and Choi Eun-hee, who were abducted, did in North Korea. In the case of the Soviet Union, it is worth paying particular attention to the exchange project plan and the production of the joint film from the mid-1980s. The active exchange of film festivals between Eastern Europe and North Korea is also a major research project. China imported North Korean films through the Cultural Revolution to cover the scarcity of film supply. In addition to research, the screening of Chinese films in North Korea is also a major research project. In addition, the role of North Koreans in the film to raise the anti-American sentiment and the role of South Koreans in Cho Chong-ryong's role in forming North Korean film history will be examined.






(3) Post-Cold War and Kim Jong-Il's System (1994 ~ 2011)


  During this period, various changes were made to North Korean society in the wake of the Soviet Union's dissolution and the death of Kim Il-sung. Attention should be paid to the animation cooperation between the two Koreas, which established a new relationship at the summit. In addition, exchanges through South Korean filmmakers' visits to North Korea and commemorative events are also major research projects. In the case of Russia, it is necessary to examine the exchange of works through the Moscow International Film Festival and the exchange of international students at the National Film School (VGIK). In North Korea, Chinese films have been screened on TV, which can be used to gauge diplomatic relations between the two countries. In the United States, which had a sharp confrontation with North Korea due to its nuclear issue, documentary films and films that look critically at North Korea continue. On the other hand, anti-American (half-Japan) films produced in North Korea are also the subjects for review. In addition, it is also important to find out the exchanges and relations with the Third World countries through the 'Movie Screening Week' event.