Film: The Schoolgirl's Diary

A 2006 film from North Korea that played at the Cannes Film Festival and which was lucky enough to be distributed internationally via a French company. One of only a few North Korean films to be shown commercially outside that country.

Kim Su-ryeon is a teenaged Na´ve Everygirl who is upset that her scientist father is never around and is frustrated that he has failed to obtain a doctorate, which would allow the family to move out of their ramshackle house and into a fancy apartment. She also doesn't understand why her mother is so okay with it. Su-ryeon's younger sister, Su-ok, is a promising soccer star at their school. Eventually, Su-ryeon's father makes a breakthrough of some kind and she realizes the importance of selfless devotion to the State.

You can see the film with English subtitles here.

Provides Examples Of:

  • Alpha Bitch: Dammit, you can't even get away from them in North Korea! Su-ryeon settles things with hers in an impromptu foot race of all things.
  • As You Know: Su-ryeon finds a letter from Dad to Mom that helpfully recounts exactly when Dad left home for work and gives the specific name of the factory.
  • Call Back: In the opening scene an envious 6-year-old Su-ryeon sees kids flying paper airplanes out of the balcony of their high-rise apartment. At the end she is doing the same out of the apartment they've moved into.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Su-ryeon realizes that her father is right to put his duty to the state above his family. She honors his wishes and enrolls in the science academy.
  • Cool Uncle: Su-ryeon has one. In one scene he brings his nieces some nice clothes.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Well, it's a good reason according to the film, anyway. Su-ryeon's father disappears for years at a time, but it's okay because he's working so hard for the glorious benefit of the State and the Dear General.
  • Food Porn: Maybe not by Western standards, but enough for you to get the impression that the film is yelling, "Hey, look at how much food we have! Our nation is so prosperous and not starving at all!"
  • A Friend in Need: Everybody looks out for each other in the socialist utopia of North Korea, which is why the rest of the neighborhood makes the Kims a new chimney after theirs collapses.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: Happens as a devastated Su-ryeon takes the train back home after finding out that nope, Dad will not be visiting Mom in the hospital.
  • Happy Ending: Dad doesn't start spending much time at home or paying attention to his children or anything, but he does make a breakthrough in his research that leads to a visit from Kim Jong-il, and finally gets Su-ryeon's family that fancy apartment.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The opening scene features a six-year-old Su-ryeon. Significantly, the first shot is of her Mickey Mouse backpack, probably symbolizing Western capitalistic doodads that Su-ryeon wants so much.
  • The Needs of the Many: Don't be so selfish! Don't expect your father to actually, you know, be around! He's working for the Dear General, he can't be distracted with piddling nonsense like your mother going under the knife for colon cancer.
  • Random Events Plot: The movie has a loose narrative and is very Slice of Life-y.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Su-ryeon's father is an obvious stand-in for Kim Jong-il, wisely and selflessly working for the betterment of everyone. Su-ryeon is the average North Korean citizen who selfishly wants the Dear Leader all to herself, but must learn that he's too busy to help everyone all the time. Since the producer of the film was Kim Jong-il himself, this might mean the father technically qualifies as a Canon Sue.
  • Slice of Life: A rather slight story dramatizing a family and the sacrifices they make for the Dear General.
  • Tomboy: Su-ok is a high-level soccer player.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: The film ends with Dad leaving yet again, as Mom and Su-ryeon bid him farewell at the train station while Su-ryeon thinks about his sacrifices working for the Dear General.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Su-ryeon's mother gets cancer, for a plot point about Dad not even showing up to provide moral support for that. The cancer issue disappears afterwards. (Presumably the surgery Mom goes through worked.)
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Su-ryeon's father. He's portrayed as being in the right for this, as his science career is equated with The Needs of the Many.