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Kim Jong Il: The movie fanatic

One of the more surprising facts about Kim Jong-il was his love of cinema. He reportedly owned more than 20,000 videos and DVDs and counted Elizabeth Taylor among his favourite actresses.

"The cinema occupies an important place in the overall development of art and literature. As such it is a powerful ideological weapon for the revolution and construction."

So wrote Kim Jong-il in his 1987 essay The Cinema and Directing.


'Bond'ing with the movies: Kim Jong Il was a big fan of the Bond
movies and his favourite actress was the late Elizabeth Taylor.
File pic/afp


Countless leaders have recognised film's potential for propaganda. But for the North Korean leader, who has died aged 69, cinema was much, much more.

His collection of video cassettes and DVDs reportedly exceeded 20,000 titles, incorporating everything from Hollywood westerns to Japanese monster movies.

Defectors from North Korea have been able to shed some light on Kim's personal taste in movies.

Shin Sang-Ok said that Kim liked horror movie Friday the 13th and Hong Kong action films.

He also revealed to the Seoul Times that the leader's favourite actor was Sean Connery, particularly in the Bond series, and his favourite actress was Elizabeth Taylor.

The first Western film to be publicly screened in North Korea was Bend It Like Beckham, watched (in edited form) by 12,000 people at the Pyongyang Film Festival in 2004. Kim was also said to have been a fan of Ealing comedies, inspired by their emphasis on team spirit and a mobilised proletariat.

Former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright also gleaned a direct insight into the Korean cineaste's habits during a state visit in 2000.

According to the New York Times, Kim asked Albright if she had seen any recent films.

When she replied Gladiator, Kim said he had seen Steven Spielberg's Amistad, which he described as "very sad".
He also once said, "I own all the Academy Award movies. I've watched them all."

But Kim was less than enamoured by Hollywood's portrayal of his own regime.

When his beloved James Bond was captured and tortured during a North Korean mission in Die Another Day, the government called it "insulting to the Korean nation".

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