Comrade Kim Goes Flying (SIFF 2013)

Comrade Kim Goes Flying tells the age-old story of small-town girl makes good in the big city. But in this case, the small-town girl is Comrade Kim Yong-mi, and the big city is Pyongyang, North Korea. Comrade Kim is a highly productive member of the coal mining team in her rural town who earns placement on a construction team in the city. There, she is excited to attend the circus to see her heroine, the great trapeze artist Ri Su-yon. When she has a chance to audition for the circus, she can’t wait for the chance to fly. Of course, nothing goes as planned initially, but Comrade Kim does fly in the end!

The story and acting are quite campy, but this is an all around fun film and it was interesting to see the first Western-funded, North Korean made fiction movie. It is also a beautifully crafted piece of North Korean propaganda. We are shown enthusiastic displays of nationalism and teamwork, placing a high value on productivity and putting the community before the individual. The working class is happy to contribute and perform their tasks with a smile on their face and a bounce in their step. Hard work is recognized and rewarded, and everyone is happy in the end. A somewhat ironic depiction of a beautiful Utopian fairy tale produced by a hereditary totalitarian dictatorship. Recommended for the interesting educational aspect of seeing North Korean propaganda art.

Provided Film Synopsis
The first Western-financed fiction feature made entirely in North Korea, Comrade Kim Goes Flying tells the story of Kim Yong-mi (Han Jong-sim), a young woman following in the dusty footsteps of her coal miner father (Kim Son-nam). Outside of work, however, Yong-mi is devoted to her amateur acrobatics. When she's offered a post with a construction crew in Pyongyang, she jumps at the chance, not least because it'll allow her to see her heroine, gymnast Ri Su-yon (Kim Un-yong). Like many a plucky young girl with a dream before her, Yong-mi gets backstage at the circus, and meets Su-yon and the other acrobats, including stuck-up male star Pak Jang-phil (Pak Chung-guk). A chance to audition for them on the high wire is a dream come true, but the young miner's trapeze skills fail her, and Jang-phil mocks her for the attempt. Yong-mi, however, is not so easily deterred, determined to prove that just because she works underground doesn't mean she shouldn't be able to fly.

Movie Details

  • Directed By:

    • Anja Daelemans
    • Gwang Hun Kim
    • Nicholas Bonner
  • Cast Members:

    • Han Jong-sim
    • Han Kil-myong
    • Kim Son-nam
    • Pak Chung-guk
    • Ri Yong-ho
  • Countries:

    • Belgium
    • North Korea
    • United Kingdom
  • Languages:

    • Korean
  • Genres:

    • Comedy
    • Drama
    • Show Me the World
    • Social Issues