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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
West snubs North Korea movies
North Korean movie
North Korea makes around 60 films a year
By the BBC's Brian Barron in Pyongyang

Film-makers in North Korea have begun to launch their work on the Western market in an effort to bring money into their struggling economy.

Hard-line communist North Korea is suffering from a food crisis and from the disastrous effects of the collapse of many of its factories.

In an attempt to raise money, cartoons and feature films made in North Korea are being promoted to the outside world.

North Korean soldiers
North Korea's strict communist regime is obsessed with war

However, the country's aggressive revolutionary rhetoric is proving something of a handicap, putting off many potential buyers.

North Korea has effectively been cocooned from the rest of the world by the state's strict isolation policies.

It has also been technically at war with South Korea for more than 50 years. The effect of both these factors has led to North Korea's economic crunch.

But despite the hardship, North Korea still manages to produce around 60 films a year.

Festival

The government is nervously inviting representatives from the entertainment industry to see the films it has on offer.

Its most recent intiative was to put on a festival of North Korean film.

The best-sellers were action films - such as Tomorrow is Forever - and especially those depicting the Koreans' prowess at martial art tae kwan.

But the communist regime is obsessed with war films, especially those which glorify the army.

These films generally portray the Japanese occupation force and the American military, who fought under United Nations command, in a bad light.

As a result, hopes of attracting a substantial number of would-be purchasers were dashed at the festival, and will probably continue to be so in the foreseeable future.

Deal

The country's maverick status is also largely to blame in getting delegates to come to North Korea.

There have been attempts to take a more relaxed attitude to film-making by the North Koreans.

They have signed a deal with French experts to develop new projects in animation.

But North Korea's obsession with espionage saturates even its entertainment for children.

And the country's extreme isolation and xenophobic policies mean that its film-makers will remain ignorant of the West's creative processes and the ideas that it considers marketable.

See also:

18 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Asian films wow Cannes
17 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
South Korea's answer to Godzilla
07 Nov 98 | Asia-Pacific
Seoul gay film fest opens
02 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea calls for new talks
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