John Sweeney


A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Incredible True Story of North Korea and the Most Audacious Kidnapping in History


Viking 353pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Of all the madnesses of North Korea’s dark state, perhaps the maddest of all was the campaign of kidnapping foreigners in the late 1970s and early 1980s conducted by Kim Jong Il. (North Koreans don’t hyphenate their names when they are transliterated into English; South Koreans often do.) No one knows how many South Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, Lebanese and European innocents were kidnapped on the orders of the bouffant-haired weirdo son of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, but the best guess is somewhere between twenty and fifty. Easily the most famous victims were South Korean film director Shin Sang-Ok and his ex-wife, the film star Choi Eun-Hee. Paul Fischer has written a smashing book that tells their great misfortune at length for the first time for the English-speaking world. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter