This article attempts to analyze the construction and maintenance of political legitimacy in North Korea through the lens of its state-produced films. After classifying North Korea’s regime as totalitarian, we then discuss the strategies of legitimation available given this classification, and highlight the importance of ideology therein. Next, we demonstrate the importance of film within North Korea’s ideological apparatus and thematically analyze six North Korean films dating from 1948–2006. From this analysis, we situate the social role of film in contemporary North Korea and argue that it will remain a crucial force amongst the country’s various attempts to maintain legitimacy.

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