restricted access From On the Art of Cinema (North Korea, 1973)

In On the Art of Cinema (1973), Kim Jong-il’s massive manifesto on the future of North Korean cinema, he foregrounds the North Korean Marxist theory of Juche (the idea of a post-Stalinist self-sufficiency arising from the nation’s subjects), which delineates the proper mode of aesthetic expression in North Korean society. Juche foregrounds the way in which all art must work in the function of building, sustaining, and supporting the State through the principles of self-reliance, independence, and being master of one’s own actions. Here we see in theory, if not in practice, the ultimate idea of art working for and conforming to the dictates of the State and, indeed, that these goals are the only reason for artistic creation in the first place. Artistic autonomy gives way to becoming an artistic automaton, with the cinema imagining the world the State puts forward as its ultimate goal and as the ultimate reflection of the people, who are coexistent and at one with the State itself.