Kim Jong-il, North Korea's Stalinist leader who once threatened to turn the United States into a 'sea of fire', gave his seal of approval to The Host on Thursday, praising the blockbuster's critical stance toward U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and dubbing them the "monster of the Han River." Bong Joon-ho's film has attracted over 13 million viewers, setting a box office record. In the film, the monster is created by toxic chemicals dumped into the Han River on the orders of a U.S.Army boss, based on an actual incident in 2000 in which a mortician with the U.S. Forces allegedly ordered the dumping of formaldehyde into the river. He was subsequently given a suspended sentence and released. "The movie portrays realistically and through impersonation that the American troops occupying South Korea are the monster that steals people's lives and destroys their happiness," writes the Tongil Sinbo, North Korea's weekly magazine. The film has prompted environmentalists to look into land pollution by U.S. military bases. Claiming that the movie boosts anti-American sentiments among South Koreans, the magazine writes, "The movie 'The Host' reflected South Korea's reality and people's psychology there. In the South, environmental crimes by the U.S. troops are very serious and is a life or death matter directly related to people." An avowed film fan, Kim Jong-il is said to have a collection of over 20,000 videos. In 1978, the ruthless dictator had South Korean filmmaker Shin Sang-ok and his wife Choe Eun-hui kidnapped in order to jump-start the film industry in the North. The Host is set to be released in the United States at the end of January.
[Source: Yonhap News]