Analysis, synopsis, and video link to a North Korean sports film about marathons.
Today we present an analysis and synopsis for the 1985 North Korean film Run and Run (Kr. 조선아 달려라, literally 'Run, Korea!') from our book Art of the DPRK - Promoting North Korean Film.
You can also find a link to the film below (in Korean!)
North Korean Film and Sports
Themes represented in sports movies tend to be present universally regardless of the country of origin of the movies; thematic elements as initial failure, mentoring from a hard-bitten veteran, self-doubt leading to confidence, scenes of intense training, etc. are all there in this film.
Working class origins of a film’s hero is common enough in international cinema (helps to show more than one level of triumphing over adversity) but are almost universal in DPRK film. Professions with an element of danger such as lumberjacking, mining, and of course soldiering are common methods of establishing the decency and down-to-earth roots of the characters.
Another common theme sees these characters using the skills or lessons they learned in their days in the professions to help them to achieve greatness in their new field. In this movie Yong Ho is initially unsuccessful but due to his coach’s confidence he persists in training, wins over his father to his quest and is ultimately successful in winning an international marathon. While the Kosice Marathon held in Slovakia (then Czechoslovakia) may seem a fairly obscure race for Yong Ho to win, it is in fact the oldest such race in Europe and was one of the main races of this lengths open to competitors from eastern-bloc and other socialist nations at the time. For the climax the film uses original footage of the actual marathon lending the film a sense of realism.
Synopsis published by Korean Film Export & Import Corporation:
This film deals with an impressive story about a lumberman of a forestry station adding glory to his fatherland at an international marathon race. Yong Ho, hero of the film, is a young lumberman of good repute.
He is ambitious to become a marathon champion. He trains himself strenuously, but he fails of success in the marathon race at a national athletic meet.
Having learned of his failure, Rak Do, his father, and Chun Bo, head of his station, advise him to give up the marathon.
Yong Bo abandons himself to despair. Schoolmaster Mun Gyu, who coached him, and Kum Ju, Chun Bo’s daughter, who is engaged in an institute of the science of physical culture instill confidence into him and encourage him to restart training. Thanks to his strenuous efforts, Yong Ho, recalling to his mind his parents in [his] native home, his intimate friends and his worthwhile workplace, runs and runs in heavy rain.
Finally Yong Ho is the first to breast the tape, leaving many ace runners in the world far behind.
You can watch the full film below from the Korea Today Youtube channel:
Interested in North Korean film? We have two Pyongyang International Film Festival group tours this September.
And for those interested in both Korea and marathons, we have just the thing for you! Check out Koryo Tours' tours for the Pyongyang Marathon - one of the most unique races you will ever run!
'Manse for Chollywood' is Koryo Tours' film blog.