Choi Eun-hee, the Korean Actress
Having started her acting career in South Korea’s movie industry in1947, Choi Eun-hee is mostly known for being one of the biggest superstars in the acting field as she has received noteworthy awards such as Best Actress at the 2nd Buil Film Awards in 1959, Popular Star Award at the 2nd Blue Dragon Film Awards in 1964, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 5th Korean Film Awards in 2006, Chunsa Daesang (Grand Prize) at the 17th Chunsa Film Art Awards in 2009, and a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Advancement of Cinema ata the 47th Grand Bell Awards in 2010. Thus, in this article, Channel-Korea will explain to you all about Choi Eun-hee, starting from her full profile, her husband and children, her kidnapping scandal and a list of her movies and books. So, stay tuned!
Choi Eun-hee’s Full Profile
Real Name: Choi Eun-hee
Date of Birth: South Korea, 20 November 1926
Age: 93 (Korean age) / 92 (International age)
Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
Chinese Astrology: Tiger
Nationality: South Korean
Choi Eun-hee’s Husband and Children
Evidently, Choi Eun-hee married a movie director named Shin Sang-ok. They established Shin Film company, and made a lot of films through the 1960s, gathered public recognition for South Korea’s high quality films at various festivals. Unfortunately, Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok divorced in 1976 due to adultery committed by Shin Sang-ok. It turned out that Shin Sang-ok also had another family with his mistress, so a divorce was certainly inevitable.
Ironically, Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok remarried in 1983 after her shocking abduction experience by the recommendation of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-il’s. They also have three children, one son named Shin Jeong-kyun and two daughters named Shin Seung-ri and Shin Myeong-hee. There is no mention of the occupation of Choi Eun-hee’s children, but they are most likely working as civil servants or businessmen, not venturing into the movie industry like their parents.
Scandal: Choi Eun-hee was Kidnapped By North Korea
Just like in the movies she starred in, Choi Eun-hee’s life also took a dramatic turn. In 1978, Choi Eun-hee was kidnapped by North Korea after being lured to direct a film and run a performing academy in Hongkong. However, the reality astounded Choi Eun-hee as she was taken from Repulse Bay when she arrived in Nampo Harbor, North Korea on 22 January 1978, and was housed later in a luxury villa called Building Number 1. After being brought to famous landmarks and museums in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, and being respected by Kim Jong-il who keep asking her opinion on various films, it hit Choi Eun-hee that she had been kidnapped for five years as bait for Shin Sang-ok, who constantly searched for her after his business in Shin Film Company struggled with the South Korean government because of an expired film license. Later, Choi Eun-hee reunited with his ex-husband at a party hosted by Kim Jong-il on 7 March 1983 after Shin Sang-ok’s abduction, which happened in July 1978. Then, Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok were instructed by Kim Jong-il to make propaganda movies for North Korea. According to Choi Eun-hee, there were 17 films made for North Korea in the span of 2.5 years, whereas Shin Sang-ok stated in an interview in 2005 that there were only seven movies
Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok successfully escaped from North Korea in 1986 after getting permission to travel to Vienna for film festivals. Both of Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok came to the US embassy to seek political asylum, and brought the taped conversation with Kim Jong-il as defense and proof that they did not willingly leave South Korea. In one recorded conversation on 19 October 1983, Kim Jong-il spoke about his plot to kidnap Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok in order to upgrade North Korea’s film industry. Moreover, he also told Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok to declare to the press that they went to North Korea voluntarily, which they did on 12 April 1984 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The news of Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok’s running away from North Korea was posted on The New York Times article on 22 March 1986. On the other hand, North Korea still denied the abduction of Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok by saying that the two of them had willingly absconded and left with a large amount of North Korean money.
List of Choi Eun-hee’s Movies and Book
As was explained at the beginning of this article, Choi Eun-hee is a legendary actress in South Korea’s movie industry, so obviously, she has starred dozens of movies, a total of eighty-one films according to the Internet Movie Database. However, in the list below, Channel-Korea only compiled a list of the selected filmography of Choi Eun-hee that you must watch.
1958 – A Flower in Hell (as So-nya)
1960 – To the Last Day
1961 – The Houseguest and My Mother
1962 – A Happy Day of Jinsa Maeng (as Ip-bun)
1962 – The Memorial Gate for Virtuous Women
1963 – Rice
1964 – Red Scarf (as Ji-seon)
1964 – Deaf Sam-yong
1965 – The Sino-Japanese War and Queen Min the Heroine
1967 – Phantom Queen
1968 – Woman
1985 – Sogum
On the other hand, there is a book which told the story of Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok’s abduction by North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-il. The book is entitled “A Kim Jong-il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker” which was written by Paul Fischer in 2015. Previously, Choi Eun-hee had also written an account of the time she spent in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea as a victim of abduction along with her husband Shin Sang-ok. In January 2016 at Sundance Film Festival, there was a presentation of a documentary about the North Korean tribulation experienced by Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok entitled “The Lovers and the Despot”, which was directed by Robert Cannan and Ross Adam. The documentary was also included in the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the same event. Not only was there a documentary, BBC Radio Four broadcast also did a 90-minute dramatization regarding Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok’s kidnapping scandal in September 2017, and a French TV mini-series entitled Kim Kong directed by Stephen Cafiero and starring Jonathan Lambert is also based upon the horrifying events.