Retrospective Screening of North Korean Films in Australia

24 04 2008

6-8 May 2008 from 6 to 8 PM,
in Room G051, Melville Hall,
Australian National University,
Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia

Anyone interested in contemporary North Korea is warmly invited to attend a unique series of retrospective film screenings by Dr. Leonid Petrov. Please note that the films shown have no subtitles, but will be preceded by an explanatory synopsis in English. Complete synopses of the movies are available here.

Dr. Leonid Petrov (RSPAS, ANU), who has been studying and teaching North Korearelated subjects for many years, will provide a brief introduction and lead the discussion. Dr. Petrov is currently working on the projects “Historical Conflict and Reconciliation in East Asia” (ANU-ARC) and “North-South Interfaces on the Korean Peninsula” (French CNRS-EHESS).


THE DESTINY OF KŬMHŬI AND ŬNHŬITUESDAY 6 MAY: THE DESTINY OF KŬMHŬI AND ŬNHŬI [금희와 은희의 운명]
(1974, Dir. by Pak Hak and Ŏm Kilsŏn, 101 min. No subtitles; synopsis in English)
Room G051, Melville Hall: 18:00 – 20:00
One of the classics of North Korean cinematography, this film emulates the best examples of Soviet and Chinese film making traditions. The story is based on the famous novel by Paek Injun about two twins separated by the Korean War.

THE DESTINY OF KŬMHŬI AND ŬNHŬI

Having lost contact with each other, the sisters live in the very different societies separated by civil and ideological conflict. Kŭmhŭi lives a happy and comfortable life in North Korea, where she can see her talent for singing and dancing fulfilled. Her sister, Ŭnhŭi, on the contrary, is destined to suffer in the South, surrounded by social evils and class inequality. This film laments the national division and claims the superiority of the socialist system.The film wonderfully portrays the grim reality of everyday life shortly after the Korean War.


Our Fragrance

WEDNESDAY 7 MAY: OUR FRAGRANCE [우리의 향기]
(2003, Dir. by Chŏn Chongp’al, 85 min. No subtitles; synopsis in English)
Room G051, Melville Hall: 18:00 – 20:00
This film reflects the early changes and nascent conflicts that emerged in North Korean society after the introduction of market-oriented reforms in July 2002. Foreign cultural influences, growing materialism and consumerism are believed to create obstacles for the advancement of Korean-style socialism.

Pyŏngho, a researcher-scientist who develops new types of the traditional dish kimch’i, comes from a conservative family. He tries to preserve and incorporate the traditional values into modern life. A young guide-interpreter, Saebyŏl, who works for an international travel company, is overly accustomed to the lifestyle influenced by foreign traditions. The two meet at the fashion show in Pyongyang, where their participation becomes a major trial to both them and their families.


THURSDAY 8 MAY: THE SCHOOLGIRL’S DIARY [한녀학행의 일기]
(2006, Dir. by Chang Inhak, 93 min. No subtitles; synopsis in English)
Room G051, Melville Hall: 18:00 – 20:00

One of the most recent films produced in North Korea, The Schoolgirl’s Diary immediately hit the box-office record locally, won a prize at the 2006 International Pyongyang Film Festival, and even found its way overseas. The film chronicles a girl’s life throughout her school years, full of mundane problems such as peer pressure and concerns over money.

The main character, Suryŏn, is preparing to make a major decision on what to do with her life after school. She analyses her childhood and questions her parents’ difficult life. Suryŏn’s family lives in a rundown country house, her mother is suffering from cancer, and her father is a workaholic who spends days and nights at the factory working on a scientific project. Tensions at home and school translate into depression and disenchantment with her parents. However, one day Suryŏn comes to realise her selfishness and immaturity.

LP

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