Experiencing North Korean “method acting” in the most visceral way.




An ingenious method of penetrating the most isolated country in the world allows an Australian filmmaker access to what proves to be a surprisingly sympathetic North Korean soul.

In 2012, Sydney-based Broinowski was invited to make a short film with Kim Jong II’s top filmmakers by wildly convoluted means. She came upon a book that the North Korean dictator (who died in 2011) had written about cinema and directing and learned how this son of Kim Il Sung had revolutionized the country’s film industry by shifting the propaganda focus “from dry, Soviet-style epics extolling the virtues of communism to full-blown celebrations of the heavenly supremacy” of his father. Kim managed to do this by kidnapping the famous South Korean filmmaker Shin Sang-ok and his movie star wife, Choi Eun-hee, in the late 1970s and turning out such classics as Pulgasari. The author was faced with a David-and-Goliath theme, much extolled by Kim, in her own backyard, as it were, in trying to save the neighborhood Sydney Park from coal seam gas drilling by the dark-sounding company Dart Energy. By harnessing the filmmaking ideas of Kim to the “ideologically pure” theme of saving the children’s playground from the capitalists, she hit on a perfect way of winning over the North Koreans. Her way of entree, however, takes up half the book, including time and numerous handlers and lots of cash, while the severely censored tours in Pyongyang are fairly well-documented elsewhere. What is startling in this book is Broinowski’s exploration inside the massively powerful propaganda factory of the Pyongyang Film Studio, where the author met the famous, now aging actors, composers, and cineastes of Kim’s reign—e.g., the exacting director Mr. Pak (the “North Korean Scorsese—known for searing political thrillers”), who became her mentor.

Experiencing North Korean “method acting” in the most visceral way.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62872-676-3

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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