Choe Seung-hui teaching dance in Pyongyang

From Corporeal Politics: Dancing East Asia by Katherine Mezur and Emily Wilcox, Editors

Subjects
  • Dance
  • Asian Studies
  • Theater and Performance
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Transcript

  • This video shows black and white historical footage from North Korea. This excerpt is taken from a recent documentary and has English subtitles and narration added onto the original film. The first shot is of multistory buildings with East Asian-style architecture lining a river. The caption reads “Choi Seunghee Dance Center.” The narrator states, “Art was under full government control, and such privileges did not come without Kim Il-Sung’s permission. Choe’s past record did not seem to matter to Kim. And, even if it did, he knew she had value enough to outweigh any negative publicity.” The scene changes to show a large classroom filled with female students practicing dance. They are dressed in short black dresses with camisole tops that reveal their shoulders and arms. The students kneel on the ground and extend their arms out to the side, exercising alternating hand actions and face framing movements. Meanwhile, their teacher, Choe, with bobbed haircut wearing a collared jacket and pants, walks around the classroom observing and making corrections. The narrator states, “She became more than a dance teacher in North Korea. Her influence on dance, music, and film was enormous. She created a generation of North Korean artists.” A close-up features one dancer, with the caption “Kim Baekbong - Choi Seunghee’s Disciple & Sister-in-law.” The narrator continues, “Her early years in North Korea represented the second golden period in her life, after the brilliant years of performing around the world.”