Past screening

The Lovers and the Despot

Directed by: Rob Cannan, Ross Adam
Runtime: 1hr 34min Year: 2016
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Directed by: Rob Cannan, Ross Adam
Runtime: 1hr 34min Year: 2016
Country: United Kingdom
Last Screened: Tue 4th Oct 2016

The incredible story of how an actress and her film director husband were kidnapped by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and held captive for years.

“Gripping. This real-life romantic thriller / escape saga is essential stranger-than-fiction viewing.” – Variety

★★★★ “…riveting study of Kim Jong-il’s movie-loving madness” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and talented actress Choi Eun-hee fell in love in the post-war Korea of the 1950s. A string of awards for their films and a happy family life with two children follow. But in 1978 following news of and affair, Choi divorces Shin and heads to Hong Kong to search out new business opportunities. While in Hong Kong Choi is kidnapped by North Korean agents and taken to meet Kim Jong-il, de facto leader.

A few months later, whilst retracing Choi’s last steps, Shin also finds himself kidnapped to North Korea. Following five years of imprisonment, they are eventually reunited by movie obsessed Kim Jong-il, who declares them his own filmmakers.

Having rekindled their love for each other, they plan their escape from North Korea, but not before producing 17 feature films for Kim and gaining his trust in the process. And then, finally, embarking on a daring escape plan.