The first thing you need to know about On the Art of the Cinema, first published in 1973, is that it’s a piece of North Korean propaganda written by some guy who probably wasn’t Kim Jong Il (the deceased former dictator of North Korea, and father of the current dictator). Hundreds of books are credited to his name, and it’s possible that he wrote this one, and the one after that “On the Juche Idea” That being said, it carries the Jong Il’s brand perfectly. When discussing the purpose of art and the humanities Jong Il’s reasoning is fairly simple:
“That literature serves man that it solves urgent and important human problems by describing the way people live, thus teaching them to understand life and influencing them to live in an honourable fashion (Jong Il 4).”
Now, Jong Il makes a great point here. From the context he basically means any of the humanities when he says literature, and he just so happens to think films are the perfect way to deliver his propaganda, so cinema is the branch of the arts/humanities he’s most concerned with. But think about the meaning of his words there: ‘teaching them to understand life and influencing them to live an an honourable fashion’. Historical context and what some might call ‘not being an all the time super cool fun-guy’ when it comes to human rights puts North Korea pretty low on the human rights totem pole
But let’s consider that quote in the light of the Donald Trump propaganda machine. This is where sometimes you need to read between the lines when it comes to statements made from a position of power. According to one North Korean source Il wrote eight hundred and ninety books (Great Thinker 9). When I read “On the Art of the Cinema” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t written by Il, but it was the 2nd book he’d written, so maybe he did write it, or maybe that’s just one of his better books. His follow up book: “On the Juche Idea” details ‘Juche’ which is central to ‘On the Art of the Cinema’ , and Idea helps to establish Il Sung as not just a dictator, but someone who was well versed in intellectualizing his propaganda.
Donald Trump, however, takes essentially the opposite approach. Trump has a lot more political opponents, because he can’t have them executed. Almost 30 yeas of reality television have primed America for a flip in reality. The Jerry Springer show first aired in 1991, and while the key difference between reality television and the news is that in reality television there are clear roles: usually you know who is a ‘judge’ and who is a ‘contestant’. Donald Trump is simply the best at being a ‘judge’. During the presidential debates he essentially strong armed the broadcast and frequently made such a spectacle of the matter that all the attention went to his words and what he had to say.
From ‘Kim Il Sung’ : “On the Juche Idea”
The Juche idea is the precious fruit of the leader’s profound, widespread ideological and theoretical activities, and its creation is the most brilliant of his revolutionary achievements (Juche Idea 1).
This is not Unlike Donald Trump, who basically takes credit for everything, he just has a less elaborate system, but because he has this less elaborate system he can go back and make corrections. Donald trump lives in an era where he doesn’t have to outsource his work to ideologies or ghostwriters to produce his works for him New media could be prove dangerous in the hands of other leaders, but because Donald Trump isn’t an actual dictator I’m not sure if there’s a similar situation where a leader is usually manipulating the truth but he was democratically elected. However, this whole idea of Donald Trump taking credit for basically everything, and him using the ideology of america to justify it isn’t new in america or in the world, but will continue until people stand up to the president and really start to reign in his bullshit.
“1. A Great Thinker and Theoretician”. naenara.com.kp. May 2008. Retrieved 11 December 2015. (A note on this source: It would appear that this is controlled by North Korean interests which may be unreliable/ falsified. I say this because naenara.com.kp claims Kim Jong Il wrote 890 works in a 30 year period from June 1964 to June 1994)
Kim Jong Il. On the Juche Idea. 1982 <http://korea-dpr.com/lib/Kim%20Jong%20Il%20-%204/ON%20THE%20JUCHE%20IDEA.pdf>
“50 Fascinating Facts: Kim Jong Il and North Korea”. The Daily Telegraph. 2011 Telegraph Media LTD. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/8965694/50-fascinating-facts-Kim-Jong-il-and-North-Korea.html>
Kim Jong Il. On the Art of Cinema. April 11, 1973, published 2001 University Press of the Pacific, Honolulu Hawaii. Accessed 8/14/2017