Statism as a lifestyle: deciphering society in films on North Korea and evolving communication through cinema

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


This article concerns a core distinctive representation portrayed in North Korean films, namely statism grounded in Juche ideology in the context of the evolution of cinema on North Korea. The paper examines, from an outsider's point of view, how the cinema represents statism that is embedded in the daily life of North Korean people, paying greater attention to two films, Comrade Kim Goes Flying and A School Girl's Dairy, by exploring the patterns of the plot, storylines, texts, and main messages. Furthermore, it discusses the disparity between foreign and domestic films on North Korea that exists in such representation. The evolution of North Korean cinema demonstrates noticeable adaptation, a gradual move away from overt propaganda, despite the fact that autonomous cultural space is extremely limited due to the oppressive political system and ideological rigidity. Such dynamics, albeit limited, occurred throughout the Kim Jong Il era in parallel with an effort to strengthen the foundation of statism lain by Kim Il Sung. More recently, it has continued in the Kim Jong Un era, due to an increasingly uncontrollable influx of external culture and ideas, as well as geographical diversification in North Korean cinema production, from the US to Europe and the rest of the world. More communication and interaction may contribute to the modernization of filmmaking in North Korea, which may in turn enhance understanding of the country and people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-424
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished Online - 20 Sept 2022


  • World cinema on North Korea
  • statism
  • Juche ideology
  • propaganda
  • Comrade Kim Goes Flying
  • A School Girl's Dairy


Dive into the research topics of 'Statism as a lifestyle: deciphering society in films on North Korea and evolving communication through cinema'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this