It is no secret that dictators do as they please, and they don’t care what anyone around them thinks of what they do. That is why so many people try to escape the countries run by a dictator. The things they do are often violent and horrific, but sometimes they can be totally bizarre too. One of the strangest acts was performed not by Kim il-Sung, who was dictator in 1978, but rather by his son, Kim Jong-il, who assumed, and rightly so, that he could also do what he wanted to. Kim Jong-il was a film buff, as well as the future North Korean dictator. Kim Jong-il decided that he wanted to make a really good movie. As any director knows, in order to make a really good movie, one must have a really good actor. Kim Jong-il knew exactly who he wanted, but rather than be bothered by the process of hiring the best actor, he simply kidnapped the one he wanted…Choi Eun-hee, as well as her ex-husband, director Shin Sang-ok. Kim Jong-il kept the pair in North Korea for several years, forcing them to make movies, including his very own version of Godzilla, Pulgasari. They now had no choice but to comply with his wishes, or they would die.

Choi was born in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, in 1926. Her first acting role was in the 1947 film “A New Oath.” She rose to fame the following year after starring in the 1948 film “The Sun of Night” and soon became known as one of the “troika” of Korean film, alongside actresses Kim Ji-mee and Um Aing-ran. She later married the director Shin Sang-ok in 1954, the two founded Shin Film. Her career flourished, and she went on to act in over 130 films. She was considered one of the biggest stars of South Korean film in the 1960s and 1970s. Due to her fame, she starred in many of Shin’s iconic films including 1958’s “A Flower in Hell” and 1961’s “The Houseguest and My Mother.” he one sadness in their lives was that she could not have children, so the couple adopted two children together, Jeong-kyun and Myung-kim. Choi divorced Shin after hearing that he had fathered two children with a young actress.

Choi’s career began to suffer after her divorce, and she traveled to Hong Kong in 1978 to meet with a person posing as a businessman who offered to set up a new film company with her. While she was in Hong Kong, Choi was abducted and taken to North Korea by the order of Kim Jong-il. Shin began a frantic search for Choi, but while searching for her, Shin was also abducted and taken to North Korea. So began years in captivity from which they finally escaped in 1986, during a press conference in Vienna!! They were in Vienna for a film festival. They fled to the US embassy and requested political asylum. Following their escape, they lived in Reston, Virginia, then Beverly Hills, California, before finally returning to South Korea in 1999. Choi died of kidney disease April 16, 2018. She was 91.

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