Friday, April 05, 2013

Documentary: Kim Jong-Il's Comedy Club

One of the most bizarre looks at North Korea during Kim Jong-Il's reign. The documentary aired on BBC Four in 2009, prior to the DPRK somewhat lightening up on its restrictions on filming there.

The film's alternate title is The Red Chapel or in Danish -Det Røde Kapel.

It's very entertaining in a rather humorous but sometimes disturbing way.
A journalist with no scruples and a pair of Danish comedians travel to North Korea with a mission to use humour to uncover the truth behind one of the world's most notorious regimes

On the pretext of being a small Danish theatre troupe on a cultural exchange, the filmmaker was granted permission by the North Korean government to stage a performance for a select audience in the capital. In reality, the troupe was comprised of an unscrupulous journalist, Mads Brugger, and two Danish/Korean comedians, Jacob and Simon, of whom the former is handicapped. Their goal is to use humour to expose the intricate effects of an oppressive regime.

The film follows the troupe as they are lovingly yet firmly escorted by a motherly government employee around the important historical sights, and as they 'collaborate' with other government officials on their performance.

Their double life is wearing on Jacob who feels conflicting emotions of affection and hatred for his hosts. With a sensibility similar to that of Lars Von Trier's controversial film The Idiots, this documentary takes a darkly humorous look inside the North Korean dictatorship.

North Korea's 23 million citizens are ruled by the iron hand of 'The Dear Leader', General Kim Jong-il. The country has a history of starving its people, violating human rights and abusing and killing its handicapped citizens.

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