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.
By the 1970s, Choi was one of the greats of South Korean cinema – beautiful, charismatic, a woman who had punched through a series of misogynistic glass ceilings with the help of her husband Shin. But by 1978 the couple had divorced; she was getting on a bit, while he