North Korea is one of the most fascinating countries in the world for me. This is largely due to the lack of information we have about the State. Indeed, much of our understanding about the reclusive nation comes almost entirely through overblown stories in the media. This is the pretence behind Álvaro Longoria’s documentary The Propaganda Game. A war is being fought between North Korea and the rest of the world and it’s not one involving nuclear weapons or conventional arms.
Longoria manages to access the North Korean capital through contact with a very special person. Alejandro Cao is a Spaniard who occupies a unique position by being the Special Delegate on North Korea’s Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, the only non-Korean to ocupy a position of power in the regime. His task is to promote North Korea’s as a culturally vibrant and proud country to the rest of the world.
The Propaganda Game is a fascinating insight into a closed country. Whilst we may think that the North Koreans live in great hardship under an oppressive dictatorship, Longoria finds no evidence of this. Whilst his movements are restricted, it would be impossible to stage manage theatre on that scale. However, Cao’s pronouncements feel increasingly desperate as time passes. North Korean society is inherently different to anywhere else in the rest of the world. Whilst we assume that a Winston Smith figure will eventually step forward, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will happen.
The Propaganda Game is out in cinemas from Friday.