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Film / The Schoolgirl's Diary

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

Kim Su-ryeon is a teenaged Naïve Everygirl who is upset that her scientist father is never around. She's 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.


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 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. In the end, she is doing the same out of the apartment they've entered.
  • Coming of Age Story: Su-ryeon realizes that her father is right to put his duty to the country 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. Su-ryeon's father disappears for years at a time, which is okay because he's working for the glorious State and Dear General.
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  • 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 Dad will not visit Mom in the hospital.
  • 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 and expect your father to 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. She must learn that he's too busy to help everyone all the time. Since the director was Kim Jong-il himself, this might mean the father technically qualifies as a Canon Sue.
  • Slice of Life: A 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. Su-ryeon thinks about his sacrifices working for the Dear General.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Su-ryeon's father gets portrayed as being in the right for this, as his science career gets equated with The Needs of the Many.