The Lovers And The Despot

Director: Ross Adam, Robert Cannan (2016) BBFC cert: PG

With international espionage, kidnap, brainwashing and torture there’s a cracking story at the heart of this well researched documentary, but aping the brooding tone of a Cold War thriller takes a great deal of fun out of it.

In 1976 the glamorous power couple of South Korean cinema disappeared from Hong Kong, leaving children, debts and failing careers behind them.

Shin Sang-ok was a stylish director and Choi Eun-hee his beautiful muse and leading lady. They emerged in North Korea at the side of dictator Kim Jong-Il, for whom they made a series of films.

After defecting to the US in 1986 they claimed to have been kidnapped, but suspicion remained they staged their abductions and had been merrily collaborating.

This collection of interviews, propaganda films, press conferences and secretly recorded conversations encourages the audience to draw its own conclusions.


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