The controversial politics and foreign policies of North Korea are often covered by the American media, yet people still understand little about the lives of North Koreans. Filmmaker Rob Montz sought to tackle this problem by creating “Juche Strong,” a short documentary about how the culture of propaganda in North Korea has contributed to their national identity and survival as a country.
A screening of “Juche Strong” took place on Oct. 3 at the Wasserman Cinematheque, sponsored by the Film, Television and Interactive Media program and the Edie and Lew Wasserman Fund.
The film shows how the pervasive propaganda in North Korea has kept the country afloat, despite their fragile economic state and widespread poverty.
Interviews with North Korean scholars teach the viewer about the concept of “juche,” the idea that the North Koreans are the masters of their country’s development and future. One might think that this idea is a sign of oppression, but to the citizens of North Korea, it is the political philosophy that is natural to them.
Montz made the film while spending 10 days in North Korea last summer, the maximum length of time that American travelers are allowed to spend in the country. Despite the fact that travelers may only visit designated areas and are forbidden from filming civilians and the military, Montz shot footage of elaborate public displays that helped paint a rich portrait of life in North Korea.
According to Montz, the purpose of making the film was “to shine a light” on the true nature of life in North Korea today and to provide “an alternative to our own propaganda about North Korea, our narrative of their society.”