July 16, 2016

Kim Jong-Un: The Unauthorized Biography: Far From Scary, Further From Enlightening

Tom Cruise's unauthorized biography claims Katie Holmes had to audition to be his wife; George Bush's unauthorized biography digs up his family's history with Adolph Hitler; Frank Sinatra's unauthorized biography His Way enraged him so greatly, he supposedly wanted to put a hit on its tabloid author Kitty Kelley. Whenever you see the word "unauthorized" next to the word "biography," you can be damned sure that the life story revealed isn't going to be overly flattering. Which is what makes this documentary from director Anthony Dufour such a curiosity. We already know that Kim Jong-Un, North Korea's current dictator, had his uncle assassinated, is developing a nuclear arsenal, and palled around with former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman. Why exactly doesn't this unauthorized biopic heighten our fears about the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea? What gives?

Much of the new news here is actually not so heinous as what we already know: He got his education in Switzerland; he appears to have a good relationship with his wife (and women in general); he didn't try to hide his health issues and has, to the contrary, worked for greater transparency in certain aspects of his rule. The lack of info regarding the prison camps, economic disparity across the country, and Kim's own personal excesses is frankly dumbfounding. Yet even without that, Dufour still intercuts gloomy music between his interviews with public figures such as Joseph R. DeTrani (the former president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance), Victor Cha (the former Director for Asian Affairs for the National Security Council), and Jang Jin-Sung (a former officer of the Korean Workers' Party). They definitely sound as if they're trying to scare us about Kim but none of them does so. Is Dufour only pretending to demonize Kim? Is he, in fact, a tool of Kim and subversively singing his praises? Does anyone truly believe that North Korea is responsible for hacking Sony's computer network in protest of the stupid satire The Interview, because of its tasteless plot point about assassinating Kim? I don't.

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