Choi Eun-hee

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Choi Eun-hee
Choi Eun-hee.jpg
in 2006 by Kin Cheung
Born(1926-11-20)November 20, 1926
Gwangju, Japanese Korea
DiedApril 16, 2018(2018-04-16) (aged 91)
Gangseo, Seoul, South Korea
NationalitySouth Korean
OccupationActress
Years active1947–2006
Spouse(s)Shin Sang-ok (1954–1976, 1983–2006)
Korean name
Hangul은희
Hanja
Revised RomanizationChoe Eun-Hui
McCune–ReischauerCh'oe Ǔn-hŭi

Choi Eun-hee (Hangul: 최은희; November 20, 1926 – April 16, 2018)[1] was a South Korean actress, who was one of the country's most popular stars of the 1960s and 1970s.[2] In 1978, Choi and her then ex-husband, movie director Shin Sang-ok, were abducted to North Korea, where they were forced to make films until they sought asylum at the U.S. embassy in Vienna in 1986.[3][4] They returned to South Korea in 1999 after spending a decade in the United States.[5]

Biography[edit]

Early career and success in South Korea[edit]

Choi was born in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province in 1926. Her first acting role was in the 1947 film, A New Oath.[2] She rose to fame the following year after starring in the 1948 film, The Sun of Night, and soon became known as one of the "troika" of Korean film, alongside actresses Kim Ji-mee and Um Aing-ran.[6]

After marrying the director Shin Sang-ok in 1954, the two founded Shin Film. Choi went on to act in over 130 films and was considered one of the biggest stars of South Korean film in the 1960s and 1970s.[2][7] She starred in many of Shin's iconic films including 1958's A Flower in Hell and 1961's The Houseguest and My Mother.[8]

They adopted two children together Jeong-kyun and Myung-kim

Abduction and years in North Korea[edit]

In 1976, Choi divorced Shin after seeing news that he had fathered two children with the young actress Oh Su-mi.[9][10] Choi's career began to suffer after her divorce, and she traveled to Hong Kong in 1978 to meet with a person posing as a businessman who offered to set up a new film company with her.[4] In Hong Kong, Choi was abducted and taken to North Korea by order of Kim Jong-il. While searching for Choi after her abduction, Shin was also abducted and taken to North Korea soon after.[2][11]

In North Korea, Choi and Shin were remarried, at Kim's recommendation.[5] Kim had them make films together, including 1985's Salt, for which Choi won best actress at the 14th Moscow International Film Festival.[8] Choi later said that the couple was able to make "films with artistic values, instead of just propaganda films extolling the regime," but that she could not forgive Kim for kidnapping her.[5] While in North Korea, Choi converted to Roman Catholicism.[12]

Escape and later life[edit]

The couple finally staged their escape in 1986 while on a trip to Vienna, where they fled to the U.S. embassy and requested political asylum.[4] They lived in Reston, Virginia, then Beverly Hills, California, before returning to South Korea in 1999.[13][5]

On April 16, 2018, Choi died in hospital where she was due to have a kidney dialysis during the afternoon.[2] Her death resulted in widespread mourning across South Korea.[4]

In media[edit]

In 2015, film producer and writer Paul Fischer released an English-language biography of Choi's and Shin's lives titled A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker.[14] In January 2016, at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, in the World Cinema Documentary Competition, a documentary about the North Korean ordeal, entitled The Lovers and the Despot, directed by Robert Cannan and Ross Adam, was presented.[15]

Select filmography[edit]

Year Title Role
Korea
1947 A New Oath
1948 The Sun of Night
1949 A Hometown in Heart Widow
South Korea
1958 A Flower in Hell Sonya
1960 To the Last Day
1961 Evergreen Tree
The Houseguest and My Mother Mother
1962 A Happy Day of Jinsa Maeng Ip-bun
The Memorial Gate for Virtuous Women
1963 Rice
1964 Red Scarf Ji-seon
Deaf Sam-yong
1965 The Sino-Japanese War and Queen Min the Heroine
1967 Phantom Queen
1968 Woman
North Korea
1984 Runaway Song Ryul's wife
1985 Salt Mother
The Tale of Shim Chong Shim Chong's mother

Source: Korean Movie Database[16]

Awards[edit]

Buil Film Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref
1959 Best Actress A Flower in Hell Won [17]
1962 The Houseguest and My Mother Won [18]
1966 The Sino-Japanese War and Queen Min the Heroine Won [19]

Blue Dragon Film Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref
1964 Popular Star Award N/A Won [20]
1966 Won [21]

Grand Bell Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref
1962 Best Actress Evergreen Tree Won [22]
1965 The Sino-Japanese War and Queen Min the Heroine Won
2010 Korean Film Achievement Award N/A Won [23]

Other awards[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref
2006 Korean Film Awards Achievement Award N/A Won [7]
2008 Korean Association of Film Critics Awards Special Achievement Award Won [24]
2009 Chunsa Film Festival Chunsa Award Won [25]
2014 Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards Order of Cultural Merit Won [7]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Choi Eun-hee (2007). Confessions of Choi Eun-hee [최 은희 의 고백: 영화 보다 더 영화 같은 삶] (in Korean). Seoul: Random House Korea. ISBN 9788925513997.
  • Choi Eun-hee; Shin Sang-ok; Yi Chang-ho (2009). Walks and Works of Shin Sang-ok: The Mogul of Korean Film - Photos and Words, 1926-2006 [영화 감독 신 상옥: 그 의 사진 풍경 그리고 발언 1926-2006] (in Korean). Paju: Youlhwadang Publishers. ISBN 9788930103459.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lee, Kyung-ho (2018-04-16). "영화배우협회, 최은희 별세..'영화인장, 유족과 협의할 것'" [Screen Actors' Guild's Choi Eun-hee Dies...]. Star News (in Korean). Money Today. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Film icon Choi Eun-hee dies at 92". Yonhap News. 2018-04-16. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  3. ^ "Rumors Reappear with South Korean Couple". The New York Times. 1986-03-23. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  4. ^ a b c d "Choi Eun-hee: South Korean actress who was kidnapped by North dies". BBC News. 2018-04-17. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  5. ^ a b c d Belam, Martin (2018-04-17). "Choi Eun-hee, actor once abducted by North Korea, dies". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  6. ^ Hong, Dam-young (2018-04-17). "Legendary actress Choi Eun-hee dies aged 91". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  7. ^ a b c Yu, Seon-hui (2018-04-16). "'영화보다 더 영화같은 삶' 배우 최은희 잠들다" ['Life More Like a Movie than a Movie,' Actress Choi Eun-hee Dies]. The Hankyoreh (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  8. ^ a b Noah, Jean (2018-04-16). "Legendary Korean actress Choi Eun-hee dies aged 91". Screen. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  9. ^ Martin, Douglas (2006-04-13). "Shin Sang Ok, 80, Korean Film Director Abducted by Dictator, Is Dead". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  10. ^ Bandhauer, Andrea; Royer, Michelle, eds. (2015). Stars in World Cinema: Screen Icons and Star Systems Across Cultures. I.B. Tauris. p. 147. ISBN 1780769776.
  11. ^ Kim, Chanmi (2013-08-12). "배우 최은희 '외도로 이혼한 신상옥 납북 후 용서했다'" [Actress Choi Eun-hee: 'I Forgave Shin Sang-ok For His Affair and Divorce After He Was Kidnapped by North Korea]. Newsen (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  12. ^ Fischer, Paul (2016). A Kim Jong-Il Production: Kidnap, Torture, Murder... Making Movies North Korean-Style. London: Penguin Books. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-241-97000-3.
  13. ^ An, Hong-kyoon (2016-10-05). "A memoir: Shin Sang-ok, Choi Eun-hee and I". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  14. ^ Martin, Bradley K. (2015-01-30). "Kidnapped to make films for North Korea". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  15. ^ Park, Jin-hai (2018-04-16). "South Korean actress once kidnapped to North dies at 92". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  16. ^ "최은희 필모그래피" [Choi Eun-hee Filmography]. Korean Movie Database (in Korean). Korean Film Archive. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  17. ^ "2회 부일영화상 수상작" [2nd Build Film Awards Prizes]. Buil Film Awards (in Korean). Busan Daily. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  18. ^ "5회 부일영화상 수상작" [5th Build Film Awards Prizes]. Buil Film Awards (in Korean). Busan Daily. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  19. ^ "9회 부일영화상 수상작" [9th Build Film Awards Prizes]. Buil Film Awards (in Korean). Busan Daily. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  20. ^ "제2회 청룡영화상" [2nd Blue Dragon Film Awards]. Blue Dragon Awards (in Korean). Sports Chosun. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  21. ^ "제4회 청룡영화상" [4th Blue Dragon Film Awards]. Blue Dragon Awards (in Korean). Sports Chosun. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  22. ^ "대종상 영화제: 여우주연상" [Grand Bell Awards: Best Actress Award]. Naver Movies (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  23. ^ "대종상 영화제: 2010년 제47회" [47th Grand Bell Awards 2010]. Naver Movies (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  24. ^ Jeong, Yu-jin (2008-11-05). "강지환, 영평상 신인남우상 쾌거". Newsen (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  25. ^ "춘사영화상: 2009년 제17회" [17th Chunsa Film Festival 2009]. Naver Movies (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-18.

Further reading[edit]

  • Breen, Michael (2011). Kim Jong-il: North Korea's Dear Leader (2nd ed.). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781118153796.
  • Bärtås, Magnus; Ekman, Fredrik (2015). All Monsters Must Die: An Excursion to North Korea. Toronto: House of Anansi. ISBN 978-1-77089-881-3.

External links[edit]