Kimjongilia Exposes the Evils of N Korea

March 21, 2010 at 19:09 (Media, Movies, Philosophy, Politics, Society, Video)

And make no mistake, they are evil. If there was ever an argument for a strong foreign policy, this would be it. Don’t we have an obligation, or are we hoping that the next guy to come down the road will be the samaritan that aids them.. It just seems wrong to allow it to happen.

Though some might intellectually accept the closed nature of North Korean society and sneer at its inclusion in the “Axis of Evil,” the extent of Kim Jong-il’s oppression truly defies human comprehension. Intellectual and artistic freedoms simply do not exist there. It might sound like a sick joke, but concert pianist Kim Cheol-woong explains he had no choice but to cross the border into China once he had been overheard playing the work of Richard Clayderman, a French easy listening recording artist.

Despite the fact that Heiken never shows her features directly, “Mrs. Kim” is the symbolic face of Kimjongilia. A dancer in her youth, her great misfortune was to befriend a woman Kim Jong-il took as his lover. Although she maintains no classified information was ever revealed to her, she was condemned to a concentration camp, along with her entire family. In addition to setting Kimjongilia’s general tone, her story also inspires several brief dramatic interpretive dance sequences interspersed throughout the film (which actually work better in the context of the film than one might expect).

Not only is Kimjongilia a chillingly portrait of totalitarianism, it is a remarkably well-crafted film. The sensitive work of composer Michael Gordon and dancers Seol-Ae Lee and Yumi Ahn give the film a classier sheen than the average PBS documentary and actually enhance the emotional impact of the survivors’ stories. Smartly assembled, Heikin deftly mixes archival footage, the original dance interludes, an animated timeline, and devastating first-person narratives. She allows ample space for her interview subjects to tell their difficult stories, yet the pacing never flags.

Heikin documents heartbreaking tragedies deliberately perpetrated by the Kim regime. It is a much needed dose of cold, hard reality for those who think a goodwill concert by the New York Philharmonic can alter the character of Kim Jung-il. Kimjongilia is an absorbing and horrifying film that deserves a wider audience. It opens today at New York City’s Cinema Village, just south of Union Square, a frequent site for left wing protests.

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