North Korea appears to have a secret appreciation for foreign media. The country's educated elite find inspiration in Gone With The Wind, while its administrative staff take advantage of internet connections to download Top Gear, video games, and porn. But while some may be able to watch western movies and TV shows, it's still much easier for North Korean citizens to watch home grown productions — feature films such as Hong Gil-dong and The Flower Girl that espouse values sanctioned by the restrictive North Korean government.
Film critic Simon Fowler has rounded up five of the country's best home-grown movies for The Guardian. Of the bunch, Fowler says The Flower Girl is the most well-known. The movie, produced by Kim Jong-il before he ascended to power, is set in a North Korea under Japanese rule. The melancholic tale follows a family mistreated by the occupiers, before Kim Il-sung — who also supposedly wrote the movie — appears with his army to save the day.
In contrast, Hong Gil-dong is closer to a kung-fu movie in structure and action, with the eponymous main character acting like a Korean Robin Hood, defending helpless villagers from thieves and oppressors. The swordplay is sharp and the tone more cheerful, but the movie has a dark origin: its director, Shin Sang-ok, was kidnapped from South Korea and forced to work making movies for the North. The director later escaped, but not before completing one of the more enjoyable entries in North Korea's filmography.