- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Future trivia question: What multicultural British sports comedy was the first Western-made film shown on North Korean television? Answer:
[O]n Sunday, The Associated Press reported, North Korean television audiences were given a rare break from this routine when the British comedy “Bend It Like Beckham” was shown there. The film, which stars Parminder Nagra as a young woman from a Sikh family with dreams of soccer stardom; Keira Knightley as her best friend; and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the dreamy coach they both have eyes on, was shown over the weekend by the arrangement of the British Embassy. According to the BBC, a message was shown during the film saying that the broadcast was done to mark the 10th anniversary of diplomatic ties between North Korea and Britain.
In a message on his Twitter account, Martin Uden, the British ambassador to South Korea, wrote: “Happy Christmas in Pyongyang. On 26/12 Bend it like Beckham was 1st ever western-made film to air on TV.” The A.P. said the North Korean broadcast of the two-hour movie was only an hour long, so please, no spoilers about the film’s subplots about religion and sexuality, or which of the women Mr. Rhys Meyers character ultimately chooses.
Kim Jong Il is reportedly a huge movie fan himself, with a collection of over 20,000 videos, none of which are typically available to North Korean citizens. He’s also written a book on the art of directing and produced — with kidnapped South Korean talent — a socialist version of Godzilla.
Hopefully, more foreign titles will soon be available to North Korean audiences, though I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for a Team America screening.