SEOUL (Reuters) - In communist North Korea, it is a crime to watch films from the South. But they make an ideal gift for its revered leader and film buff, Kim Jong-il.
A stack of DVD films were among the presents South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun handed Kim — reputedly also a film director in his youth — on Wednesday at the start of only the second summit between leaders of the divided Koreas.
Among the dozens of discs was one of South Korea’s most popular TV dramas, “Jewel in the Palace”, about a cook for the royal family in the days when Korea was unified and starring Lee Yong-ae, widely thought to be Kim’s favorite actress.
Nervous of illustrating the stark difference between the impoverished hermit North and its very wealthy, democratic neighbor, analysts say Pyongyang prohibits the import of films from the South.
One analyst said a routine tactic used by North Korean police is to cut the electricity to apartment blocs before a raid and then go to each home to check what is on video tapes or DVDs that have become stuck inside players.
Other gifts to the man North Korea’s media dubs the Dear Leader were high quality tea, a painted screen and a ceramic dish with Roh’s signature.
But there was no sign of the giant flat screen TV South Korean media had speculated would also come with Roh. That might have broken international sanctions following Pyongyang’s nuclear test a year ago, against the export of luxury goods to North Korea.
Additional reporting by Kim Yeon-hee