A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


I'm not usually a big reader of non-fiction, but A Kim Jong-Il Production reads like a fast-paced thriller and kept me captiv-ated! North Korea's Beloved Leader was a passionate cinephile who deplored the quality of his nation's films. What better way to improve them than to have two giant stars (think Brad and Angelina big) "involuntarily defect" and make movies for him? And that's exactly what hid did: kidnapping filmmaker Shin Sang-Ok and his actress ex-wife, Choi Eun-Hee from their native South Korea and bringing them across the 38th Parallel. The story that follows is so crazy, I'd dismiss it as far-fetched if I read it in a novel! Jong-Il was both smaller--he topped out at 5'2" and wore 5" platforms and a bouffant to compensate--and larger than life. He regularly held debaucherous parties where teetotaling was frowned upon, idolized and modeled himself after James Bond, and punished disloyalty with "secret" public executions. His many eccentricities are well-known, but Fischer does a fantastic job researching and setting the scene. His descriptions of Pyongyang, for example, are so evocative, I felt as though I were right there in Kim's "ideal city", so eerily reminiscent of Orwell's 1984. I couldn't put this book down; I devoured it in 2 days! I'd recommend Production to anyone who enjoys feeling smarter after reading non-fiction and wants an engrossing story to go along with it.

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Description


An Amazon Best of The Year Nonfiction Selection

Library Journal Top Ten Book of the Year!

The Extraordinary True Story of Kim Jong-Il’s kidnapping of the golden couple of South Korean Cinema, The Movies They Were Forced to Make, and Their Daring Escape.


Before becoming the world’s most notorious dictator, Kim Jong-Il ran North Korea’s Ministry for Propaganda and all its film studios. Underwhelmed by the pool of talent available to him he took drastic steps, ordering the kidnap of Choi Eun-Hee (Madame Choi) – South Korea’s most famous actress – and her ex-husband Shin Sang-Ok, the country’s most famous filmmaker. But as Madame Choi and Shin Shang-Ok begin to make North Korea’s greatest films, they hatch a plan of escape worthy of a blockbuster Hollywood ending. A Kim Jong-Il Production is that rarest of books: a wildly entertaining, cunningly told story that offers a rare glimpse into a nation still wrapped in mystery.

“Gripping… A Kim Jong-Il Production tells the absurd, harrowing, and true story of Choi and Shin's ordeal, which reveals the importance of film as propaganda to the North Korean regime.” —Esquire.com
“The 1978 abductions of the South Korean actress Choi-Eun-He and her ex-husband, the director Shin Sang-Ok, in Hong Kong is the true crime at the center of Paul Fischer's gripping and surprisingly timely new book.” —The New York Times
“An entertaining new book…details how [Shin and Choi] finally seized their chance to seek asylum…A stupefying, novelistic read.” —The Boston Globe

“Fischer's entertaining narrative paints an arresting portrait of a North Korean "theater state," forced to enact the demented script of a sociopathic tyrant.” —Publishers Weekly

“Paul Fischer's book A Kim Jong-Il Production is a highly illuminating deep dive on the middle Kim's cinematic obsessions and the film arms race between the two Koreas.” —The Washington Post

“Exhaustively researched, highly engrossing chronicle of the outrageous abduction of a pair of well-known South Korean filmmakers by the nefarious network of North Korea's Kim Jong-Il.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

About the Author


PAUL FISCHER is a film producer who studied social sciences at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris and film at the University of Southern California and the New York Film Academy. Paul’s first feature film, the documentary Radioman, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Doc NYC festival and was released to critical and commercial acclaim. A Kim Jong-Il Production is his first book.

Praise For…


“The 1978 abductions of the South Korean actress Choi-Eun-hee and her ex-husband, the director Shin Sang-ok, in Hong Kong is the true crime at the center of Paul Fischer's gripping and surprisingly timely new book.” —The New York Times

“An entertaining new book…details how [Shin and Choi] finally seized their chance to seek asylum…A stupefying, novelistic read.” —The Boston Globe

“Gripping... A Kim Jong-Il Production tells the absurd, harrowing, and true story of Choi and Shin's ordeal, which reveals the importance of film as propaganda to the North Korean regime.” —Esquire.com

“In his exhaustively researched new book, A Kim Jong-Il Production, Paul Fischer has uncovered a story about a film producer who would make any Sony exec look warm and fuzzy…” —Details Magazine

“Nonfiction nail-biter…” —Vulture.com

“That a North Korean dictator should kidnap two South Korean movie stars and force them to make films he hoped would rival Hollywood seems the stuff of fantasy. But it isn't, Kim Jong-Il did and Paul Fischer captivatingly tells perhaps the most extraordinary tale from the world's most bizarre country. A Kim Jong-Il Production is simply flabbergasting!” —Paul French, author of The New York Times bestseller Midnight in Peking

“The incredible tale of how a dictator's obsession with the cinema led to one of them most hair-brained schemes ever concocted: to kidnap a famous South Korean director and his star actress and force them to make movies that would inspire his flagging nation. Kim Jong-Il failed to realize, however, that movies--especially good ones--have a pb ower all their own and that real life rarely follows a script. A KIM JONG-IL PRODUCTION is the true story of desperate movie stars, daring escapes, and the paranoid leader who brought it all together. Equal parts history, thriller, and farce, Fischer's masterful reporting will keep you engrossed until the very end. ” —Matt Baglio, coauthor of The New York Times bestseller ARGO: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled off the Most Audacious Rescue in History

“In A Kim Jong-Il Production, Paul Fischer defrosts a Cold War story almost too wild to believe, an epic love story that reveals in Technicolor the North Korean hermit kingdom and its movie-obsessed, improbably charismatic late leader. This book is un-put-downable.” —Benjamin Wallace, author of the New York Times bestseller The Billionaire's Vinegar

“Exhaustively researched, highly engossing chronicle of the outrageous abduction of a pair of well-known South Korean filmmakers by the nefarious network of North Korea's Kim Jong-Il. Filmmaker Fischer carefully presents a well-documented story of the kidnapping ... A meticulously detailed feat of rare footage inside the DPRK's propaganda machinery.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“North Korea is a nightmarish movie theater without an exit in this gripping true-life thriller ... Fischer's entertaining narrative paints an arresting portrait of a North Korean "theater state," forced to enact the demented script of a sociopathic tyrant.” —Publishers Weekly

“Fischer matches keen cinematic analysis with an unusually cogent and vivid brief history of the two postwar Koreas. The most compelling facets of this book of astonishments are Fischer's insights into the relationships between Choi, Sun, and their diabolical captor... Gripping and revelatory, Fischer's true-life thriller provides a portal into the mad tyranny of North Korea.” —Booklist (Starred Review)

“Paul Fischer's book A Kim Jong-Il Production is a highly illuminating deep dive on the middle Kim's cinematic obsessions and the film arms race between the two Koreas.” —The Washington Post

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250054272
ISBN-10: 1250054273
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: November 24th, 2015
Pages: 384
Language: English