Remembering Kim Jong-il Through North Korea's Cult-ish Monster Movie 'Pulgasari'

Remembering Kim Jong-il Through North Korea's Cult-ish Monster Movie 'Pulgasari'

Dec 19, 2011

Pulgasari movie monster

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il is dead, and while the record of horrible things he inflicted upon the North Korean population is well documented, no one ever seems to mention Pulgasari in his seemingly never-ending list of atrocities.

The 1985 monster movie stands as the most famous film to ever emanate from North Korea, which is ironic, since it was made by South Korean filmmaker Shin Sang-ok and his actress-wife Choe Un-hee – who Kim Jong-il had kidnapped and imprisoned until they made this cult classic Kaiju flick for him.

Website io9 ran a piece on the film awhile back, and have reprinted it to mark the dictator’s passing. It basically revolves around a giant iron-eating bull monster that helps peasants overthrow a tyrant king. Reportedly, it’s considered a cult classic in Japan.

As io9 mentions, the film plays out like a weird metaphor for Communism. Sure, the bull monster helps the locals overthrow their evil ruler, but he does so by consuming all of their natural resources, leaving them in a different, but equally precarious, situation. One has to wonder what Kim was thinking with the film’s story in the first place – when you’re the tyrannical leader of a country known for oppressing and starving your citizenry, maybe making films where mythical creatures come to the aid of the put-upon populace isn’t the best idea to keep the masses towing the party line. Of course, since Kim died from causes other than revolution or being slaughtered by a giant iron-eating bull monster, maybe things worked out okay after all…

If you like Kaiju flicks with social commentary, you’re in luck. Pulgasari is available for viewing on YouTube, complete with English subtitles. It’s not as cool as a Godzilla or King Ghidora film, but it’s definitely worth checking out. 

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