Godzilla and Flowers: The Films of Kim Jong Il

The North Korea ruler leaves behind more than just a dictatorship

Pulgasari's anticapitalist thrust warns against the dangers of unchecked industry. Embodying this danger is the monster Pulgasari, whose appetite for steel is literally insatiable. "Just exercise a little self-control," a farmer's daughter tells him near the end, and diligent North Koreans are meant to absorb the message as well. This apparently big-budget film hews as closely as possible to the insistence laid out in Jong Il's book that ideology must always trump creative concerns.

As with a great many North Korean movies, the ostensible focus of both Flower Girl and Pulgasari is largely superseded by depictions of the peasantry going about their noble business, with the latter featuring as many scenes of intense battles as of farmers and workers nobly plying their trades. Jong Il believed fervently that fantastical stories must be rooted in the everyday, that "the director cannot depict life truthfully if he produces an absurd work which is divorced from life."

One of Jong Il's final producer credits was for The Schoolgirl's Diary, which premiered at the 2006 Pyongyang International Film Festival and was released in France the following year. Neither it nor any other work with which he was involved has ever come close to matching the notoriety of Pulgasari—for better or for worse.

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