Cholliwood or North Korea’s Hollywood

Travel with Stanito | By Stanito

We have Hollywood in the US, Bollywood in India, Nollywood in Nigeria… So why not finding the exact replica in North Korea as well?

Our North Korea tour certainly enlightened us on many things, I probably didn’t pay much attention to the itinerary they sent us at the beginning because I remember being very surprised when we arrived into this films studio. It’s nickname is Cholliwood.

Cholliwood or North Korea’s Hollywood 1
Alley of the Cholliwood Films Studio, else known as Pyongyang Film Studio.

According to what our guide was telling us, the Pyongyang Film Studios had a big shining moment in the late 1970’s, where the studio produced many films with specific themes: anti-Japanese, anti-US Imperialism and somehow even China has a place here.

It seems like Kim Jong-il’s love for movies got completely out of hand in the late 1970s when he had two South Korean actors (husband and wife) abducted. He wanted to have them working for him, producing films for him and North Korea.

After the demise of the films époque, the escape of the two abducted actors and the critical situation of the country which led to famine, the film industry collapsed. However, me and my friends were lucky to see that even though it is almost completely disused we could still find some people working in it.

The entire idea of Cholliwood (from Chollima) is to recreate from ancient Korea to nowadays, from Japanese streets to Korean and Chinese towns, buildings, and époque.

Cholliwood or North Korea’s Hollywood 4
This is part of the Japanese 1930’s set.

Facts about the Pyongyang Film Studios are hard to find and the propaganda certainly doesn’t help uncovering truths, not even about its size and number of studio staff. Some sources claim that the studio produces 20 movies a year, others say that it churns out up to 60, while critics claim that only one or two movies are produced a year and higher numbers include documentaries and shorts films.

But the buildings are still there for us to see, here are some views of this peculiar place

Cholliwood or North Korea’s Hollywood 2

Only few people were around that day but we could still see enough.

On that day some of the crew were working on signs to be used in the respective scenarios.

Cholliwood or North Korea’s Hollywood 3

The following signs would have been used in the Japanese set.

Cholliwood or North Korea’s Hollywood 5

And finally a simple truck which I assume is used as part of a war movie given its rusty look.

Cholliwood or North Korea’s Hollywood 6

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