Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


September 7, 2012

Romantic comedy gets twist with NKorean acrobats


Han, who plays bright-eyed ingénue Kim Yong Mi, says the trapeze scenes were easy but the close-ups were tough. Her character is mischievous and charming, willing to resort to telling white lies to realize her dreams.

"As an acrobat, I use the movement of my body to create a breathtaking impression on the audience, but film actresses have to use their faces to express all their feelings to the audience, and this hasn't been easy work for me," she said during filming in June 2010.

"Comrade Kim" also offers foreign audiences a look at life inside North Korea. Or at least the cinematic version, where there's plenty of food on the table and enough electricity for Yong Mi to scribble in her diary at night.

Viewers go inside the gymnasiums where the acrobats who star in North Korea's famed Arirang mass games perfect their trapeze acts. And the movie shows North Koreans in baseball caps and T-shirts, not just military uniforms.

It also touches on timely themes, including the construction that is part of a major propaganda push that began during the succession campaign for Kim Jong Un, who took over as North Korean leader after father Kim Jong Il died in December.

"Let's go higher, faster!" Yong Mi shouts, echoing a popular political slogan.

Kim, the North Korean director, admitted he was worried about working with foreigners.

But "it went very smoothly, better than I expected, and it was very interesting to work together with them," he told AP. "I think it is because our foreign partners can understand our ideas, system and policies, and the intentions of our filmmakers."

The North Korea cast and crew haven't yet seen the film, which bursts with color in contrast to the darker hues of most North Korea films. But Bonner says he thinks they have captured what they wanted to see on the big screen.

"They all were after a film with romance, comedy and a young couple — something exciting and fun," he said.


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