Abductions and Passion in North Korea at Alt Cinema

BANGKOK — Of all his alleged glorious talents, filmmaking held a special place in the heart of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Problem was, his isolated nation made terrible films, so he concocted a simple plan.

“The Lovers and The Despot,” a 2016 documentary by Robert Cannan and Ross Adam, reveals the infamous 1978 abduction of South Korean director Shin Sang-ok and his ex-wife, actress Choi Eun-hee. It was Kim, of course, behind the zany scheme.

In 95 minutes, the doc not only explores the relationship of the young couple, but also their rise and fall in the South Korean film industry. Choi was kidnapped in Hong Kong in 1978. When Shin went there looking for her, he was snatched as well.

Fast-forward through five years of indoctrination and the couple were reunited in a moment of real-life cinematic punch. That’s when Kim Jong-il told them what was up: He wanted them to be his personal filmmakers. And that’s what they did for several years, winning his trust and secretly planning their escape.

“The Lovers and The Despot” shows at 9pm on Thursday at dive-bar thrift store I Hate Pigeons on Soi Si Bamphen, in the Ngam Duphli area just off Rama IV Road. The nearest MRT is Khlong Toei Station.

Tickets are 120 baht and include a Danish beer while supplies last. Advance booking can be made via Facebook.