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The Political Symbolism and Sociocultural Meaning of the New North Korean Film

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Author Yee, Ji Sun
Publish Date / Page 2022-05-04 / 15 p.
Series No. CO 22-12(E)
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〈A Day and a Night〉 is the first new art film to be released in six years in North Korea. It shows the theme of the struggle against ‘anti-Party, counter-revolutionary factionalists’ as well as the ‘Desperate Spirit of Safeguarding the Leader.’ The uniqueness of advertising through a trailer and nationwide simultaneous release has peaked the interest of the North Korean people. The stylishly-edited trailer shows that the film is in spy/anti-espionage genre that is both entertaining and captivating. In addition, the digitalized logo of the film and experimentation with kinetic typography also stand out. This study analyzes the political symbolism and sociopolitical meaning of the film based on the trailer and the tale of the individual on whom the main character is based on. The political symbolism is three-fold. First, 〈A Day and a Night〉 applies the situation in 1958 to 2022 to equate the accomplishments of the first ten years of the Kim Jong-un regime with the Chollima miracle, and to compare the complete transformation to socialism in 1958 with the notion of comprehensive socialist development in 2022. Second, by considering the current internal and external challenges as the same as the post-war situation, it seeks to continue the legacy and tradition of self-reliance. Third, the film also conveys the political message of elevating Kim Jong-un to a leader that must defended with one’s life. The film’s sociocultural meaning can also be summarized as follows. First, it satisfies the public’s need for cultural consumption. Second, it establishes the brand value of Chosun film. Third, it urges overcoming current difficulties by eliminating factors that threaten the system. It appears that looking up to the year ‘1958’ will replace the ‘1970s style’ which was used as the driver for social construction early in the Kim Jong-un regime.