Film: Pulgasari

Godzilla... as envisioned by Kim Jong-Il

Pulgasari is an odd Kaiju film that came out of North Korea. It was produced and directed by Shin Sang-ok, a South Korean director who had been kidnapped and taken into North Korea and features special effects by the Godzilla effects team at Toho. It's complicated.

In the film, in feudal Korea, the evil King becomes aware that there is a peasant rebellion being planned in the country. He steals all the iron farming tools and cooking pots from the people so that he may make weapons to fend off the peasant army. After he returns the property to the people, an old blacksmith is imprisoned and starved to death. His last creation is a tiny figurine of a monster- Pulgasari, a Godzilla-like creature that eats iron. The blood of his daughter Ami brings the creature to life. Pulgasari and fights with the poor, starving peasants to overthrow the corrupt monarchy—but eventually he turns on them.

Released in 1985, it was never shown out of Korea for well over a decade, when it was finally released to international audiences in 1998.


The film contains the following tropes:

  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": For the few people who've seen this film, Ken Satsuma did the suit acting for Pulgasari.
  • Blood Magic: Used to bring Pulgasari to life. Drops of Ami's blood make her father's figurine come to life. More drops of her blood help Pulgasari break out after the king has buried him alive.
  • Call Back: The government seizing the farm tools is what leads to the rebellion in the beginning of the film. In the end, Pulgasari eats the farm tools.
  • Evil Laugh: There's tons of it throughout the movie.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The blacksmith's daughter sacrifices herself by allowing Pulgasari to eat her (without him knowing) in order to prevent him from becoming both a burden and a threat to the farmers he helped rebel against.
  • Kaiju
  • People in Rubber Suits: Low-budget moviemaking at its finest, with the guy in the Pulgasari suit.
  • Pit Trap: The king tries this trick to defeat Pulgasari, digging a huge pit and luring Pulgasari into it.
  • Starter Villain: The Governor, the one who is directly oppressing the inhabitants of the village who form the bulk of the good characters. In fact, the very moment after he is killed is when the film first introduces the true Big Bad, the King.
  • Storming the Castle: The rebels storm the castle and kill the governor.
  • A Taste of the Lash: The Governor has the blacksmith whipped with a stick after the iron tools are stolen by the villagers.