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Pyongyang keeps the romance out of ‘Comrade Kim’

Directors Anja Daelmans and Nicholas Bonner are photographed at the Marriott Hotel lobby while doing promotion for their film Comrade Kim Goes Flying, during the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2012.


There's never been an on-screen kiss in the entire 64-year history of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (aka North Korea), and Comrade Kim Goes Flying – billed as "the first Western-financed fiction feature made entirely in North Korea" – held true to that chaste tradition when it unspooled its world premiere at TIFF Tuesday evening.

The 83-minute romantic comedy's Western co-producers and co-directors, Belgium's Anja Daelemans and British-born Nicholas Bonner, said in an interview Wednesday that they "tried to put a kiss in it," but North Korean authorities nipped the lip-lock in the bud.

A laughable puff piece with nary a torture camp or barbed-wire fence in sight, the film tells the story of a plucky female Korean coal-worker who dreams of travelling to Pyongyang to become an aerialist with the circus. It's travelling to the Pyongyang International Film Festival – which Bonner calls, with a chuckle, "the Cannes of the East" – later this month, then gets a rare bow in October at the Busan film festival in South Korea. (South Korea's first screen kiss, BTW, lasted all of two seconds and happened in 1954's The Hand of Destiny.)

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James More


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