Organized Panel Session
Well known for his love of films, North Korean leader Kim Jŏng-il was determined to develop North Korean cinema so that it would serve as a more effective political tool to revolutionize the masses while meeting the international standards of films and attracting the foreign audiences. In order to accomplish such monumental tasks, Kim abducted South Korean film director Sin Sang-ok and his wife Ch’oe Ŭn-hŭi in 1978. Since then, Sin has directed and produced a little more than ten films, one of which includes Love, Love, My Love (1984), a remake of a popular Korean folktale Ch’unhyang jŏn (a.k.a. A Tale of Spring Fragrance). This wasn’t the first time either North Korea or Sin remade the folktale into a film. In fact, Sin’s very career in South Korea had started with his successful remake of the folktale in 1961 which was also credited for having ushered in the golden age in South Korean cinema.
By comparing North Korea’s earlier versions of the folktale adaptation with those of Sin’s that were made in North and South Korea, this paper sheds light on Sin’s influences on North Korean cinema and its reflection of the political shift in the 1980s as his productions allowed for North Korean audiences to visualize the future of North Korea and the outside world. Most importantly, North Korean film adaptations of the folktale in comparison to the South Korean versions reveal how some traditions and values remained fixed yet served different purposes in North and South Koreas.