Pulgasari (1985)

1h 35m / Not Rated / Monster

In 1978, Kim Jong Il, son of the then-ruling Kim Il Sung and future supreme leader of the totalitarian dictatorship of North Korea, had South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok kidnapped, along with his wife, famous actress Choi Eun-hee. After spending three years in a North Korean prison, they were forced to start making movies for him. Pulgasari is one of those films.

In feudal times, an evil king oppresses the good people of Korea. An old blacksmith, imprisoned for defending his village, makes a tiny monster and asks the gods to bring it to life. The cute little beast grows from the size of an infant, to a full-grown human, to a towering Godzilla-like monster by eating the metal arms and armor of the evil king’s armies. But what happens if the living weapon of liberation grows out of control?

Shin and Choi managed to escape to the US embassy while at a film festival in Austria — one that they attended in order to screen Pulgasari, which Kim Jong Il felt was a masterpiece. Whether or not it’s a masterpiece, it saved their lives. And the story behind its creation is absolutely singular.

Korean w. English subtitles

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