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A Forest Is Swaying (1982, English Subtitles)

January 27, 2013

“A Forest is Swaying” is the story of a former soldier (Pak Sŏng-ryong) who struggles to plant a pine forest and raise and orphaned child in an area devastated by American bombs in the Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War). A young agricultural expert comes to judge the work Pak has been doing. She finds that it is impossible to have a pine forest in this area, and surmises that he should plant other trees instead. He continues to plant pine trees regardless of her advice.

SPOILERS BELOW

The trees survive a harsh winter after they were thought to have died, and a forest begins to take root. The agricultural expert sees Pak’s dedication to the state, and decides to move out to the forest and marry Pak. Many years later, Pak and his family live in the forest that Pak created. In the meantime, they have given birth to two sons, and their orphan daughter, Song I, is now nearly of age and is ready to go to college. Pak insists that she become a schoolteacher for mountain village children, but Song I wants to move to the city and bring the family with her. Pak breaks down in tears upon hearing this news, and Song I discovers that she was an orphan. Song I comes around and agrees to teach mountain village children, especially after hearing what Pak did for her. Pak continues to create new forest, and once the forest begins hearing fruit, he is asked to meet the Great Leader Kim Il-Sung. The film ends with Pak in the car with his young son, on his way to meet the Great Leader.

As far as DPRK movies go, this is pretty standard fare. But you can see the important emphasis put on family, as well as the promotion of environmental conservation. The last scene, where the man from the city talks about how great it is that Pak is meeting Kim Il-Sung, is reminiscent of a Christian movie. The man is almost a preacher singing God’s praises, accentuated by heavy music and a captive, appreciative audience.

It’s also interesting to note the despite how many times he’s mentioned, Kim Il-Sung never actually appears in this film, even in an image (aside from the small pins everyone wears).

Director: Yong-bok Jang

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