To paraphrase Mel Brooks …
It’s good to be dictator.
North Korea’s tyrant-god Kim Jong-il is apparently a big fan of South Korean actress Lee Young-Ae (known to US cinephiles mostly from two Park Chan-wook movies: SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE and JOINT SECURITY AREA). So big that South Korean officials planned to use her to butter him up.
“Chairman Kim likes to watch South Korean TV programmes. Among South Korean entertainers, he favours Lee Young-Ae the most,” an unidentified South Korean official was quoted as saying by the Joong Ang daily. “DVDs of South Korean movies and dramas, including those featuring Lee Young-Ae, will be included as summit gifts.”
But if I were Miss Lee, I would boost my security retinue or get the hell out of South Korea real quick, in case one day Kim gets jealous at South Korean cinema’s international prestige and decides North Korea’s needs a boost, like he’s given it in the past.
His obsession with developing North Korea’s film industry was so great that in 1978 he reportedly ordered North Korean agents to abduct a famous South Korean movie director, Shin Sang-Ok, and his ex-wife, actress Che Eun Hui.
The couple stayed in the communist state for eight years while making propaganda films. They escaped in 1986 and wrote a memoir about their saga.
I wonder if this movie was among the gifts the South Koreans gave to The Dear Leader:
Not to be outdone, in the category of “today, US-hating dictator; tomorrow, entertainment star” Hugo Chavez has released his latest musicalbum, that I’ll bet is already topping the Venezuelan charts.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has released a CD of traditional folk music that features him singing, and which will be distributed free inside the country, presidential sources said.
The CD, titled Canciones de Siempre which roughly translates to Songs For All Time, includes tunes that Chavez has sung during his regular Sunday Hello, President television and radio program.
Hopefully, it’ll be just as good as this album:
Apparently the Chavez record is not available at Amazon, and there’s not a separate Amazon site for Spanish material, as there is for French, Chinese, Japanese and German. No doubt The Man trying to keep Chavez’s revolutionary truth away from The People. So I can’t buy the record, but I hope Harry Belafonte was asked to sing backup on the No. 1 hit single “Bush Is the Greatest Terrorist.”
Of course, in both cases, the dictator doesn’t allow artistic freedom, or the fruits thereof, for his own people. It’s good to be dictator. According to the article on Cinephile Kim above:
In July, North Korea reportedly ordered the shutdown of karaoke bars, online game rooms, video-screening rooms and Internet cafes as part of a battle to stem a flood of South Korean pop culture.
And at the other end, Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz has had a concert canceled by the Venezuelan government over his criticisms of Chavez, and Chavez continues to attack the independent press in Venezuela. (Good job, Bono.)