First NK Monster Faces Hollywood-Born Godzilla in Japan

At a time when the Hollywood-made reptile monster "Godzilla" has landed on Japan, another menacing monster has arrived at the island nation from Pyongyang, in a showdown with the Hollywood giant.

Movie theaters in Tokyo and Osaka this month pit "Pulgasari, Legendary Monster" against "Godzilla" to attract moviegoers' attention.

The screening of "Pulgasari" in Japan marks its world debut, as the movie has not been released elsewhere outside of the DPRK since its completion in 1985.

The film, the first monster movie in the DPRK, was produced by north Korean film makers with help of more than 10 Japanese special-effect engineers who were invited to north Korea.

Coincidentally, Satsuma Kenpachiro, the man inside of the suit of the original "Godzilla" film produced by Toho Co., also acts as "Pulgasari." The movie draws public attention as staff members of the original Japanese "Godzilla" movie cooperated in producing special effects.

In interviews with some Japanese papers, Satsuma, who is critical of the Hollywood version of Godzilla, expressed his gratitude to the release of the north Korean movie.

The movie, set during Korea's 14th century Koryo dynasty period, tells the story of a doll that comes to life and grows bigger as it eats iron. Eventually it sides with the common people, who are oppressed by the military regime. (See the story of Pulgasari bellow)

Edoki Jun, who arranged for "Pulgasari" to be distributed in Japan, was quoted as saying by Japanese daily Yomiuri Simbun, "There is a warm feeling in the special effects, which computer graphics cannot achieve. Today it seems unexpectedly new."

According to the daily, Edoki did not want to let the film languish in obscurity, because of the high quality of the special effects.

Compelling scenes are the action of Pulgasari which is like the original Godzilla, and the battle scene in which  more than 10,000 extras from the Korean People's Army participated.

Some critics said that though the movie itself is cheap and not sophisticated like the Hollywood version of Godzilla, "Pulgasari" reminds the viewers of Japanese monster movies of their good old days.



In the 14th century Koryo dynasty period, peasants who had been languishing under tyranny finally stood up against the military regime.

The king and the military tried to reinforce their forces to quell the farmers' uprising. The authorities confiscated farming tools from peasants to make weapons.

Taksae, a skilled smith was ordered to make weapons from the farm tools looted by the government. But conscientious Taksae secretly gave back all the tools to farmers, and was arrested and tortured harshly. At the last moment of his life, he made a little doll with rice his daughter Ami had brought to him, and named the doll "Pulgasari" after a legendary monster which was believed to help people in hard times.

After his death, Ami and her younger brother brought the doll to their home as a memento of their father. One day, when a drop of Ami's blood happened to fall upon the two-inch-tall Pulgasari, it was suddenly given life, and grew bigger as he ate iron.

On the day of the public execution of Ami's lover Indae, who was arrested because he was one of the leaders of a riot, "Pulgasari" suddenly appeared and saved his life.

As the monster sided with the peasants as their guardian, the people won battles against the soldiers from the military regime and advanced towards the king's palace.

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The military regime fiercely fought against the peasants, but giant Pulgasari, as his name "immortal" means, was overwhelmingly stronger and there was no ways for the authorities to stop the uprising.

Then, a cunning general who captured Pulgasari by taking Ami as a hostage, tried to burn to death Pulgasari when was confined in a huge cage, but the monster was still immortal and saved Ami.

In the decisive battle, Pulgasari destroyed the King's palace and routed the enemies.

As the legend goes, Pulgasari helped people and brought peace to Koryo.

But his insatiable appetite for iron ironically became another menace to the life of peasants who had to give their farm tools to the monster.

Ami, who wished for the happiness of people, decided to take the life of Pulgasari by sacrificing herself. Ami hid herself in side of a big bell in a temple, and Pulgasari, who did not know that Ami was inside the bell, ate it. Ami told Pulgasari to sleep calmly from the belly of Pulgasari. Then, suddenly Pulgasari fell down and the two passed away peacefully.


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