In The Lovers and the Despot, Ross Adam and Robert Cannan recount the bizarre and fantastic story of Shin Sang-ok and Choi Eun-hee, two darlings of the South Korean film industry kidnapped by Kim-Jong-il to make North Korea a leader in world cinema. CineVue’s Maximilian Von Thun spoke to the directorial duo about the making of the film, its unsolved mysteries, and the realities of life in North Korea.
Maximilian Von Thun: Let’s start off by talking about those incredible tapes: How did you get hold of them, and how were you allowed to use them in the film? Was there more fascinating material you weren’t able to include?
RA/RC: We did interview people who were skeptical, but unfortunately it’s mostly hearsay; we didn’t see the advantage of including pure speculation about Shin. We did the best we could to find the most concrete evidence out there, but there’s no getting around the fact that he was the only known witness to his own kidnapping. We included a few details from intelligence agencies and the Hong Kong detective who worked on the case, but overall we wanted to leave it up to the audience to decide what the truth is.
MVT: What’s your gut feeling?
MVT: How has making this film changed your perspective on the enigma of Kim Jong-il and North Korea?
Maximilian Von Thun| @M3Yoshioka