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Hollywood Films Depicting N. Korea as Enemy

Posted August. 07, 2010 12:06,   


In a small dark room, a beautiful half-naked female spy is beaten by North Korean soldiers. The slogan “Independent Unification” is hung on the wall.

This is a scene from the Hollywood action movie “Salt,” which opened in South Korea theaters last week. Starring actress Angelina Jolie, who recently visited Seoul to promote the film, "Salt" is about a CIA agent accused of being a Russian spy.

The movie caught the attention of Korean moviegoers due to the opening scene, where the protagonist is tortured in the North after being caught on a mission to destroy the communist country’s nuclear weapons. In American dramas and movies, the North has become synonymous with a villain.

Though the Stalinist nation is given the cold shoulder diplomatically abroad, the country is popular material in Hollywood. The North first appeared as the enemy in the 2002 James Bond film “Die Another Day,” which drew attention after South Korean actor Cha In-pyo declined to appear in the movie.

North Korean officers in the movie are portrayed as strong enemies who capture James Bond.

The North has also spiced up many Hollywood blockbusters. In 2007`s "Transformers," a U.S. military base is attacked by alien robots, leading U.S. officials to say North Korea would commit this kind of act.

In this year`s release “Iron Man 2,” the North makes an unsuccessful effort to develop war supplies by imitating the hero`s suit. In the 2004 animated film “Team America: World Police,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Il appears as a narcissistic terrorist leader who pronounces the letter “L” like “R.” He is shown singing the song, “I’m So Ronery (lonely),” playing the piano, and uttering, “Why is everyone so fucking stupid?”

Film critics say the Soviet Union, which had long been the favorite enemy depicted by Hollywood, has been replaced with North Korea. Many Hollywood films revolve around a face-off with an enemy that disrupts world peace.

After depicting Nazi Germany in “Dictator” and “Valkyrie” and the Soviet Union in “Red October” and “White Nights,” Hollywood then turned to extraterrestrials in "Independence Day,” “Mars Attacks” and “Men In Black.”

With tension over Pyongyang`s nuclear program rising in the 2000s, the North has rapidly emerged as the world`s public enemy.

Hollywood, however, has shown a different attitude toward Arab countries as seen in “Syriana (2006)” and “Kingdom (2007).” Arab countries in such movies are portrayed as having similar conflicts with the U.S. and certain films blame U.S. greed for oil.

Film critic Park Yoo-hui said, “Arab countries have been well known to the West since medieval times and Arabs have formed a large community in the U.S. By contrast, due to little information on the North, the communist country is being depicted as a terrorist group formulating dangerous plots instead of a country.”