In feudal Korea, the evil King becomes aware that there is a peasant rebellion being planned in the country. He steals all the iron farming tools and cooking pots from the people so that he... See full summary »
In feudal Korea, the evil King becomes aware that there is a peasant rebellion being planned in the country. He steals all the iron farming tools and cooking pots from the people so that he may make weapons to fend off the peasant army. After he returns the property to the people, an old blacksmith is imprisoned and starved to death. His last creation is a tiny figurine of a monster- Pulgasari, a Godzilla-like creature that eats iron. The blood of his daughter brings the creature to life, and fights with the poor, starving peasants to overthrow the corrupt monarchy. Written by
In the early 1990's, the North Koreans attempted to market this propaganda film to foreign countries with no success. Finally in 1998 it got its first international viewing in Japan where it gained a small cult following. See more »
Since I began living in South Korea several years ago, I have always been curious about what life and art would be like in the isolated North. The educational channel in South Korea (EBS) has a weekly show that gives us clips of North Korean newscasts, movies, music, dramas and animation.
When South Korean president, Kim Dae-jung visited North Korea last year in the first step toward normalizing relations and possible (albeit future) unification, we learned that the North Korean supreme leader is something of a movie fanatic. He has been secretly receiving western movies and monitoring South Korean tv dramas. It is not surprising to learn that he apparently ordered Pulgasari be made. Like every other artform from the North it can only be broadcast or shown if it matches the philosophy of the state. Pulgasari is a metaphor. The evil king represents the feudal government of the Chosun Dynasty which ended at the beginning of the 1900's. The monster, Pulgasari represents capitalism. It arrives apparently to help the people, but soon grows out of control. The heroes in the movie are the peasantry, the common people who must fix everything that people with power have wrought.
Nobody can claim that Pulgasari is state-of-the-art. Even by rubber monster standards, this movies special effects are poor. It does help to consider that the budget for this movie was probably around what we spend on lunch in a year. But for me, the true fascination of a movie like this is the chance to see how another culture, living under a completely different philosophy, sees the world.
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