Smuggled Secret Recordings Reveal Another Side to Kim Jong-il

North Korea’s former leader Kim Jong-il spoke some harsh criticisms against his own people during his dictatorial rule, recently uncovered private recordings revealed.

Kim Jong-un’s dad allegedly criticized his own citizens and openly mocked himself and North Korean films in secret recordings smuggled by kidnapped South Korean filmmakers who had escaped to the U.S. in 1985.

The recordings, which had Kim Jong-il speaking freely in private, are included in the documentary about the regime’s bizarre kidnapping of South Korean director and producer Shin Sang-ok and his wife, actress Choi Eun-hee, titled “The Lovers and the Despot.”

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In the audio clips, Kim Jong-il can be heard criticizing North Koreans’ “closed-mindedness” and even joking about his short stature, reported the Independent.


In the 98-minute documentary by filmmakers Robert Cannan and Ross Adam, the clips were revealed to be secretly recorded by the kidnapped couple who were forced to make films for President Kim for eight years.

Using a hidden sound recorder, the renowned director and actress secretly taped some of their conversations and discussions with the late dictator. The recorded audio was later smuggled to the U.S. State Department after they made their escape. 

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In the leaked audio, Kim can be heard complaining about local cinema, saying: “Why are there so many crying scenes? All of our scenes have crying scenes. This isn’t a funeral, is it?”

He also blasted the North Korean film industry’s lack of originality, stating that the local productions do not stack up well against the quality of South Korean movies.

“Why do all of our films have the same ideological plots? There is nothing new about them […] People here are so closed-minded,” Kim was quoted as saying. “We don’t have any films that get into film festivals. In South Korea they have better technology. They are like college students and we are just in nursery schools.”

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He also extended his depreciating remarks against North Koreans onto himself when he was heard making fun of his height, by saying: “Look at me. Aren’t I small?”

State Department official David Straub, who was one of those who reviewed the tapes, told CNN:

“My jaw dropped. Hours and hours of recordings of Kim Jong-Il speaking relatively freely would be an intelligence windfall for the American government, since we’d never heard him speak before, much less privately.“

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According to Greg Scarlatoiu, of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, the recordings show similar characteristics shared between Kim Jong-il and his son Kim Jong-un, saying, ”Just like his father before, this leader of North Korea must suffer from a complex of inferiority as well. The insecurity was surely something that Kim Jong-un inherited.”

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