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The Ministry of Truth: Kim Jong-Il's North Koreaby Eva Munz
Synopses & Reviews
The few dozen tourists—and a few journalists—who come annually to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang are accompanied by guides and are only allowed to see what the regime blinders for their viewing. For the visitors, actors often represent pedestrians, and the consumer goods seen in stores are unavailable to the public at large. The statistics heaped upon the visitors are dubious at best.
Kim Jong Il's People's Republic of North Korea is a gigantic installation, a simulation, a play. Eva Munz, Christian Kracht, and Lukas Nikol traveled to this land to take pictures of a country from which there are no pictures. What they show in The Ministry of Truth is a window view of the gigantic 3-D production of Kim Jong Il, who writes the nation's statistics and authors its film script. Because no accurate view is available of this total installation, the authors make the only one possible: They comment on their photos with quotations from a didactic book on the art of film written by the dictator—who not only collects wine and Mazda RX-7 sports cars, but also has an enormous film library.
Christian Kracht is a celebrated journalist and author and the editor of the German cultural magazine Der Freund. The photographs of Eva Munz and Lukas Nikol have had numerous international exhibitions.
"In his introduction, celebrated German writer Kracht argues that under Kim Jong-Il's rule, North Korea has essentially become Jong-Il's 'three dimensional stage-set,' a country based entirely on simulations projected by the government to convince the world, as well as a number of its own citizens, that the socialist nation is happy and thriving. Though foreign guests 'see only what the regime wants them to see,' the rich, full-color images of North Korea's capital city Pyongyang captured by international photographers Munz and Nikol contain a surreal beauty, often monumental and sparsely populated, that inspires a vivid sense of isolation and uncertainty. A lack of captions and frequent interruption by quotes from Kim Jong-Il's book on film production, The Art of Cinema ('Artistic generalization is effective... because it creates a hundred facts with one stroke'), turn the images into a kind of challenge, daring readers to parse the 'real' North Korea from the infamous leader's staged tableaus of normal life; Kracht describes, for example, empty subway trains run for the benefit of visitors, and a trip to a film shoot at which the camera isn't even plugged in. This slim book provides rare glimpses into the 'world's first postmodern country,' each as illuminating for what it shows as for what it hides." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This book of photographs brings you North Korea as chillingly envisioned by dictator Kim Jong-Il.
About the Author
Christian Kracht is said to be one of the best-known writers and journalists of his generation. He has written nine books and many magazine articles translated into a dozen languages. He is also the editor of the German magazine, "Der Freund," and the son of the owner of Springer-Verlag, the huge German publishing concern. Filmmaker, photographer, writer, Eva Munz traveled to North Korea with co-authors Christian Kracht and Lukas Nikol. Lukas Nikol is a noted German photographer who photographed the ghostly and intensely choreographed surroundings of North Korea.
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