Program Detail

Ryang-Kang-Do Merry Christmas North

Sung Hoon Kim / Korea / 2011 / 95 min / Korean with English subtitles / Color / 35mm


A misplaced Christmas gift winds up in a North Korean boy’s hands in this unabashed satire of typical views of North Korea. Little Jong-soo lives in an isolated rural province, but dreams of visiting Pyongyang. He almost gets his wish when his fourth-grade class wins a trip to the capital, but school officials pull him off the bus because they are afraid that foreign media could see someone “so ugly.” Devastated, he weeps in a forest. Suddenly, a balloon falls from the sky. And inside…is a toy robot, embodying a holiday that Jongsoo has never heard of.

Ryang-Kang-Do is North Korean defector and writer Jung Sung-san’s second script, after his 2006 political prison-themed musical, Yoduk Story. This latest work is more comedic, as it follows the hijinks of the snotnosed Jong-soo, whose “security guard” robot inspires awe and jealously among the other village children. The kids also learn about Christmas from a card found in the balloon, and from Jong-soo’s grandfather, whose recollections of “Comrade Jesus Christ” harken to a time when Pyongyang was known as the “Jerusalem of the East.” A “Christmas tale” unlike any you’ve seen before, complete with a North Korean Santa Claus, some not particularly wise men, and a hoped-for winter’s journey to that promised land of glory (Pyongyang), Ryang- Kang-Do is a Korean, even more twisted version of A Christmas Story.

-Terry K. Park

Co-presenter: Oakland Asian Cultural Center (3/15)


  • Director: Sung Hoon Kim
  • Producer: Dong-Hyun Kim, Li Xing, Lu Yuanyuan, Sang Jie, Sang Jie
  • Cinematographer: Soon-Ho Ham, Wang Meng
  • Writer: Sung-San Jung
  • Editor: Sung-Won Ham, Qin Lengleng
  • Cast: Whan-Young Kim, Hae-Ri Joo, Choong-Hoon Lee, Yoon-Sang Yu
  • Sound: Soo-hyun Kim


March 9, 2012 7:00 pm
SF Film Society Cinema at New People
Tickets not currently on sale

March 15, 2012 8:45 pm
Pacific Film Archive Theater
Tickets not currently on sale


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