‘The Interview’ Is Canceled: 8 Other Movies About North Korea

In the wake of terrorist threats and a massive hack, Sony has decided to cancel the release of its comedy The Interview. The film stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as hapless entertainment journalists who go to North Korea to interview Kim Jong-un after finding out he’s a big fan of their trashy talk show. Before their trip, they’re asked to assassinate the North Korean leader by the CIA. Lots of misadventures and awkward homoerotic tension was promised on Rogen and Franco’s route to kill one of the most feared leaders in the world.

When the movie was first announced, North Korea released a statement saying it wasn’t very happy about the plot of the film, and now the FBI says it has confirmed the country is behind the massive hack of Sony that’s resulted in multiple scandals for the company, as well as leaked films. Furthermore, the hackers have threatened any theaters that show The Interview, and as theater chains began dropping the picture, Sony decided to forego releasing it all together, theatrically and otherwise. As Hollywood and others respond in outage over complying with the demands that the comedy not be shown, here are eight other movies about North Korea to watch instead.

Source: Paramount Pictures

1. Team America: World Police

Theater chain the Alamo Drafthouse had planned to show this 2004 satire from the brains behind South Park instead of The Interview, but the film’s studio, Paramount, decided to pull the film Deadline reports. Alamo Drafthouse apologized for the inconvenience after having hyped the movie screening on Twitter, saying it was cancelled “due to circumstances beyond our control.”

Apparently theatergoers will have no political satires about North Korea to see on the big screen over the holidays, but you can watch Team America at home. Team America: World Police is a parody of big-budget action movies featuring marionettes instead of actors and making fun of America’s world politics. In the film, the puppets murder a puppet version of then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Source: Paramount Pictures

2. The Bridges at Toko-ri

Many of the films Hollywood has made about North Korea are set during the Korean War. This 1954 movie starring William Holden and Grace Kelly, and based on the book by James Michener, follows a U.S. Navy crew assigned to blow up a series of bridges in North Korea between 1951 and 1952. The movie is quite historically accurate, remaining true to the source material which is itself based on missions Michener covered as a correspondent during the Korean War. A major theme of the movie is how the Korean War war affected those fighting it, while those at home in America didn’t know much about what was happening in the conflict or why.

Source: M.C. Productions

3. The Manchurian Candidate

1962 Cold War conspiracy classic The Manchurian Candidate credits the North Koreans with inventing and controlling the revolutionary brainwashing technique used on Capt. Bennett Marco, played by Frank Sinatra, to turn him and his fellow soldiers into essentially a terrorist weapon. Marco and his platoon are captured and subjected to the brainwashing experiment while fighting in the Korean War.

In the film, the technique that allows control over Marco was developed by the Soviets, Chinese, and North Koreans cooperating in their giant communist conspiracy. The other main character in the movie, Staff Sgt. Raymond Shaw (played by Laurence Harvey), has his own conditioning monitored in America by a North Korean agency posing as his servant. The Manchurian Candidate is considered to be one of the best political thrillers of all time, according to the American Film Institute.

Source: 20th Century Fox

4. M*A*S*H

Director Robert Altman’s 1970 film that inspired the classic TV show is about a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital stationed in Korea during the Korean War, though the show and the movie both had heavy subtext regarding the Vietnam War happening at the time they were made. Rather than trying to demonize North Koreans or communism, the movie takes a staunch antiwar stance through subversive, dark comedy. The movie focuses on the lives of the American soldiers working at the hospital and doesn’t focus too much on North Korea, instead using the place as a setting for a senseless war. The TV show based on the film went on to be a critical and popular success, running from 1972 to 1983.

Source: MGM

5. Die Another Day

The 20th installment in the James Bond franchise and the last one to star Pierce Brosnan featured Bond on a mission in North Korea, where he is betrayed, captured, and imprisoned. After being released via a prisoner exchange, Bond must seek revenge on his torturers and figure out who betrayed him in the first place. The movie is most famous for featuring Halle Berry as the Bond girl and the well-known shots of her in an orange bikini.

The film received mixed reviews and managed to irk both North and South Korea, as people from the countries found the film’s representation of Koreans insensitive and inaccurate.  A sex scene in front of a statue of Buddha, as well as a scene in which simple Korean farmers stare in awe at a luxury car being lowered from the sky were cited as being offensive, and people in South Korea boycotted the film.

Source: Columbia Pictures

6. Salt

This 2010 Angelina Jolie-starring action thriller features the actress in butt-kicking spy mode. We first meet Russian spy Evelyn Salt being tortured in a prison in North Korea. Meanwhile, her American boyfriend, who doesn’t know her secret identity, is back home drumming up so much publicity on her behalf that the CIA is forced to organize a prisoner exchange for her return even though the agency is typically against such matters. Throughout the movie, Jolie’s performance keeps us guessing about what Salt’s true motives are, and the actress did much of her own stunt work.

Source: Millennium Films

7. Olympus Has Fallen

This big-budget action thriller stars Gerard Butler as a heroic Secret Service agent who loses his job at the White House after saving the president, played by Aaron Eckhart, from a car accident but failing to save the First Lady. Butler’s character comes to the rescue again even though he’s been banished to go work in the Treasury Department when a group of North Korean terrorists overtake the White House during a presidential meeting with the South Korean prime minister.

After the terrorists assassinate the prime minister, they demand that the U.S. remove its forces from the Korean peninsula and stop all opposition to North Korea overtaking South Korea. The terrorists also plan to detonate all of America’s nuclear weapons in their silos and leave the United States a radioactive wasteland. This movie got mediocre reviews, with a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it was accused of being a ripoff of Die Hard.

Source: Palm Pictures

8. Joint Security Area

This mystery thriller is a Korean film from director Park Chan-wook about two murders that happen within the DMZ, the heavily patrolled border between North and South Korea. Swiss Army Major Sophie E. Jean, played by Lee Young-ae, is brought in as a part of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Committee to figure out what exactly happened between the North and South Korean soldiers that were involved in the scuffle.

The movie was a huge hit in Korea, ranking as one of the country’s biggest box office hits, and Quentin Tarantino has named it one of his 20 favorite films made since his debut as a filmmaker 1992. This is a chance to look at the tensions between North and South Korea in a Korean film by a Korean filmmaker, rather than a Hollywood exaggeration.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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