Monday, July 29, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Ten - Kimjongilia, "A strange mishmash of testimonials and NK Prop films."

I'm a big fan of VICE's efforts to peak behind the veil of North Korea's secrecy and tyranny, so when ANY documentary pops up on Netflix concerning the country, I generally put it into my queue until I feel the need for something non-fiction.

In this particular case, I probably could've done without.

Not to minimize the plight and suffering that the subjects of Kimjongilia went through in escaping the horror of the totalitarian state they were born to, it's less an analytical/descriptive piece and more an appeal to emotion.

Occasionally, the film puts up timelines describing the rise of the Kim family, turning everything above the 38th parallel into a dictatorial communist regime under the cult of personality for the Kim line, but... for the most part... it's just a series of testimonials of survivors who have escaped to China, Mongolia, and the South describing the suffering that they went through.

These testimonials are intercut with odd modern dance routines where the sole character is one of the infamous North Korean female traffic wardens who recreates moments of pain, despair, abuse, and suicide through interpretive dance.

Also providing contrast are dozens and dozens of NK propaganda performances and films which send up Dear Leader and promise that everything is just fine and dandy, despite the fact that the country is in a deplorable state, being crushed by the iron rule of the elite few.

Perhaps the format is necessary due to the extremely limited footage available from inside the dictatorship, but... as emotive the testimonials are, I'm not getting much out of this doc. Of course I sympathize, empathize with this people and the countless others still trapped under the yoke of the Kim Dynasty, but this film is all about pulling heart strings with barely anything in the way of facts and analysis.

I find it more than a little ironic that it plays so while airing propaganda that claims it's the West that is dying and decadent, trying to convince through emotion the opposite is true.

Yes, "Up is Down" to them, but just counterclaiming that "Up is Up" doesn't make for an all that interesting documentary.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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