North Korea is known for a lot of things: fascism, starvation, nuclear weapons, their amazing Casual Fridays. What the country isn't known for, though, is valuable contributions to the cinematic arts. With one exception: the 1985 sci-fi epic Pulgasari.
Pulgasari is the story of a group of starving peasants fighting back against a tyrannical regime -- and seeing as this is a North Korean movie, we're not sure who the bad guys are supposed to be in that scenario. When a talented medieval blacksmith is imprisoned for refusing to make weapons for the emperor, he gives his daughter a kaiju statue made out of mud and rice. When it touches a drop of her blood, the statue comes to life as the gigantic Pulgasari. The common people use the monster to defeat the emperor, but it quickly goes renegade and threatens to eat the entire country's supply of metal. That actually sounds pretty dang awesome. Unfortunately, the movie itself is terrible, with a budget smaller than a Power Rangers bottle episode, a monster that looks and sounds like a badly damaged chew toy, and a director who wasn't too into the project, what with having been kidnapped by the North Korean regime.
That's right, the craziness of Pulgasari's plot is nothing compared to the story of how the movie was made in the first place. Its director, Shin Sang-ok, was a South Korean who was kidnapped on the orders of Kim Jong-il, who was a big-time movie buff before he became a small-time dictator. Kim even tricked the original Godzilla crew, complete with actual Godzilla actor Kenpachiro Satsuma, to come over and help with the special effects. Shin and his wife did manage to escape North Korea eventually, but not before making several more terrible movies. Meaning the only thing Kim Jong-il ever successfully nuked was Shin's Rotten Tomatoes score.
Any bozo could write a better Godzilla knockoff with a beginner's guide to Celtx. Or, you know, not under duress by a dictator.
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