Have Fun in Pyongyang provides unique insights on everyday life in North Korea, a mysterious country which to this day remains a touchy subject. The world has passed judgment, the country is beyond repair and our preconceived notions about the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea remain firmly in place. Considered by most of the world to be an erratic, Orwellian regime that’s paranoid, schizophrenic, and a place of modern-day gulags, long-headed by a despotic film buff Kim Jong-il, and now by his son Kim Jong-un, whose portly appearance is topped with a singular haircut.
From a distance, the regime may even seem comical to your average western citizen but let us not forget their nuclear arsenal. It is a threat that has to be taken seriously and makes the self-proclaimed ‘innocent’ nations of the world tremble with fear.
When it comes to North Korea though why is it we so often resort to clichés? In light of the difficult and often tragic situation, the countries people find themselves in hyperbole seems rather inappropriate. We are often told that foreigners are not permitted into the country and that those who are allowed are not permitted to see much of anything real, especially with regards to day-to-day activities.
This film was shot over a period of eight years by three different people who between them made more than forty trips to North Korea. However, we are not presented with prison camps, or rocket launch pads as that is forbidden. Instead, Have Fun in Pyongyang examines what daily life is like for the 25 million North Koreans who live there. Are they allowed to laugh, dance, and marry? What do they eat? Where do they go on holiday? Due to the countries isolation, these simple questions are quite difficult to answer.
Having attended festivals, harvest ceremonies, visiting factories, and listened to singing contests, we through their camera lenses catch a fascinating and bizarre glimpse of everyday life inside The Hermit Kingdom.
Directed by: Pierre-Olivier Francois