Why Not Watch?

Sweden: Vodeville

Ireland: JustWatch

South Korea: JustWatch

Don’t worry world! We always support watching documentaries legally and many of the films we recommend on Influence Film Club are available where you live too. We suggest using your preferred method for watching a film – such as searching iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, VOD platforms (video-on-demand), or renting/buying a DVD.

Find out more about starting a film club!

The Lovers and the Despot

After the collapse of their glamorous romance, a famous South Korean director and actress are kidnapped by movie-obsessed North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. Forced to make films in the world’s weirdest state, they get a second chance at love, but only one chance at escape.

Director: Ross Adam, Robert Cannan
Year: 2016
Time: 97 min

 The Lovers and the Despot
(2016) on IMDb

Watch the Film

US: JustWatch
UK: JustWatch
Other Ways To Watch

Download Discussion Guide

Ways to Influence

Share this film. Give other the chance to learn from its story.

Read A Kim Jong-il Production, a 353-page book on written by Paul Fischer and first published in 2015 if you are intrigued by the story of Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok’s and want to delve deeper. For another interesting perspective on Kim Jong-il’s extensive ideas behind film, read one of the many books he wrote on the subject, including The Cinema and Directing and On the Art of the Cinema.

Learn more about the work of the Human Rights Watch that works around the globe to collect data on human rights’ abuses, and continue to work for justice in North Korea. Consider donating to their cause.

Watch one of the many films Shin Sang-ok produced during his time as a director. 

Related Articles and Resources

North And South Korea: A Quick History

“The devastating Korean War left more than a million dead and tensions between the two neighbours continue to simmer.”

Continue reading on Sky News.

Interview With the Filmmakers

Directors of The Lovers and the Despot, Robert Cannan and Ross Adam talk about the film in an interview with Jeff Hanson on Park City Television.

Watch the video on Youtube.

Are the Best Directors Tyrants?

Gone Girl’s David Fincher is among the auteurs who film dozens of takes until perfection is achieved. But is such exactitude worth it?

Find out more here.

The Strange History of North Korea’s Communists

“North Korea is marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of its Communist Party, the sole controller of the state. Kim Jong-un, the grandson of the man who cemented the party’s rule, will preside over spectacular celebrations.”

Read the article on the BBC.

Review: ‘A Kim Jong-il Production’ Recounts a Bizarre Legacy

“What do Laurence Olivier, Ingrid Bergman and Kim Jong-il have in common? “A Kim Jong-il Production,” Paul Fischer’s elaborately complicated book about that North Korean dictator’s grand passion for cinema, may be the first and last time anybody answers that question.”

Read the full article here.

20 Things I Learned While I Was in North Korea

“I was only in North Korea for five days, but that was more than enough to make it clear that North Korea is every bit as weird as I always thought it was.”

Read the story on the Huffington Post.

Propaganda Masterclass: Can Kim Jong-il Beat Coal Seam Gas?

“For her film Aim High in Creation!, Australian director Anna Broinowski mined the late dictator’s cinematic secrets to make her own propaganda about fracking in Sydney”

Read the full article here.

The Producer From Hell

“The North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il has a passion for cinema. But he could never find a director to realise his vision. So he kidnapped one from the South, jailed him and fed him grass, then forced him to shoot a socialist Godzilla. Now, for the first time, Shin Sang-ok tells the full story of his bizarre dealings with – and eventual flight from – the world’s most dangerous dictator.”

Read the full article on the Guardian.


Films We Think You'll Love