The Propaganda Game (2015)
by Dermot Hudson
Spanish director and actor Álvaro Longoria has won critical acclaim for films about Fidel Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara over the years. Last year he set out to investigate and explore the theme of the propaganda war against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). This film is a result of his visit to the DPRK arranged by the Korean Friendship Association (KFA) and the DPRK Committee For Cultural Relations.
The primary strength of the film is that the fascinating footage of the DPRK, showing the carefree lives of working people in the DPRK and the fact that Alejandro Cao de Benos, the founder and President of the KFA, plus officials of the DPRK Cultural Relations Committee and ordinary working people are able to put the case for the DPRK. They are able to point out that housing is free of charge and that the people of the DPRK do not pay taxes.
Some of the Koreans interviewed expressed surprise and dismay at some of the lies being peddled about the DPRK, such as the story about laws about hairstyles!
Unfortunately, probably as a concession to capitalist commercial interests, the film does include some anti-DPRK material from various 'defectors' and so-called experts on the DPRK including Andrei Lankov, a Russian “liberal” academic who is professor of Korean Studies at Kookmin University in Seoul, the capital of the puppet south Korean regime, along with some prominent members of the so-called “human rights” gang.
The audience is also treated to theatrical and plastic celebrity defector Yeomi Park, who also appears in the film. The DPRK has made a documentary exposing this unsavoury young lady and her background. Others have also taken apart her story.
“Seeing is believing” as Koreans say and basically the reality of the DPRK disproved these ill-minded and hired slanderers. We saw Korean people at work and at play, relaxing or at wedding ceremonies. Longoria said that he saw no evidence of the black market capitalist economy that some so-called experts claim exists. Longoria, though, is clearly neither a socialist nor a communist because he seemed to be puzzled by how the DPRK's construction boom is funded. “Where is the money coming from?” he asked twice. Well we can tell him that is socialist planning, socialist ownership and Juché that provides the wherewithal for all the construction.
Regrettably and bizarrely Longoria appears to doubt that the Catholic church in Pyongyang is genuine and he also has a one-sided take on reunification, seeing it only as meaning south Korea absorbing the DPRK. He appeared to be totally ignorant of the DPRK proposals for a Confederal Republic and the inter-Korean agreements of 2000 and 2007. The possibility of the south Korean people rising up in a revolution against the puppet regime and reunifying with their brothers and sisters in the north also appears to have escaped his mind.
Nevertheless, despite these shortcomings the DPRK and the KFA in the form of Alejandro Cao de Benos shine through in the film. The film contains a rare interview with Alejandro's parents for the first time. The no-nonsense, straight talking style of Alejandro in defending the DPRK is impressive. Some so-called friends of the DPRK have often shied away from such a robust defence of the DPRK but Alejandro was there in the film defending the DPRK, hammering the lies.
If you are prepared to stomach some extreme anti-DPRK material and take some things with a pinch of salt then this is a very good film to watch. It is on a very limited UK release now.