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