Shin Sang-ok's life was larger than movies. He was an accomplished director and producer, with over a hundred titles to his credit. He was famously known for presenting the first kiss in a Korean film. But he was better known for being kidnapped by now North Korean leader Kim Jongil, for the purpose of producing better films for the communist half of the divided nation. Also seized was his ex-wife and longtime collaborator, actress diva Choi Eun-hee. Shin was first imprisoned and later, together with Choi, forced to make several films before successfully escaping after eight years.
Such notoriety overshadows a highly accomplished career that was both long and prolific. Shin was one of a handful of directors who were instrumental in making the 1950s and 1960s a Golden Age of Korean cinema, so respected and important he was nicknamed "Prince of Korean Cinema".
There is also a Hong Kong connection for Shin. He was involved in early border-crossing co-productions with the then colony, making several films here in the 1970s, such as The International Secret Agents (1967), The Goddess of Mercy (1967) and The Ghost Lovers (1974). And, in an indication of Hong Kong's role as a hub of international intrigue during the Cold War, North Korea's abduction of both him and Choi took place right here, in an early edition of Asia's World City.
We are presenting two of this legendary director's work for our Restored Treasures lineup of October and November. Both were made in the early 1960s, films that helped establish Shin Sang-ok as one of the pillars of Korean cinema.
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