rethinking why performance matters through the matter of performance
3. Potentials of Performance

3 October 2012

Dialogues over Pizza across the Border


Pizzas for the People by Hwang Kim


Before reading this post, please follow the link to read the previous one, here.


The protagonists in Star Pizza taste their pan-fried pizza. Pictured: In Kyung on the left and Yong Ha on the right


Star pizza was shot in South Korea in the style of home made how-to videos you can find on YouTube. A young fictional couple In Kyung and Yong Ha living in a fictional North Korean neighborhood give instructions on pizza making, suitcase packing, the latest South Korean pop dance routines, and Christmas.

  North Korean exiles were very much involved in making the film. They advised on the ingredients available in North Korea – apparently tomatoes, cheese, and peppers are not widely available, and very few home kitchens are equipped with an oven; they also helped in designing the film to match a common North Korean home interior. Most significantly they taught two South Korean actors the distinctive North Korean accent.  They were not able to appear in the film as that could have threatened the lives of their relatives and friends back home in North Korea.

  After Star Pizza was distributed by smugglers in North Korea, the producers received responses from North Korea in the form of video clips and letters. Due to limited time and resources only short extracts of Star Pizza will be presented at P o P in October. The responses from North Korea won’t be released either. Instead here are some short excerpts.


 Still image from a video clip sent from North Korea as a response to Star Pizza , showing a pizza made following the recipe in Star Pizza.



Dear In Kyung in South Korea

Hello! Even though we have never met before, I feel as if I’m writing to a very close friend


I really enjoyed the film. You look the same age as me. Your acting of a North Korean girl impressed me most.  Judging from your accent in the film, there is hardly any difference between North and South Korean accents. If you come and live in Pyong Yang, no one would notice that you are from the South.


Is it true that university students in South Korea can easily eat pizza? There may be more restaurants in South Korea where you can eat food as luxurious as pizza than in Pyong Yang.


Recently I have been secretly watching South Korean TV dramas. They made me so curious. I have far too many questions to write here…


What is the top-ranked university in South Korea? In North Korea Kim Il Sung University is the best, where I go. It is an institution for the training of elite civil servants.  In Kyung: after the reunification, if you ever want to enter Kim Il Sung University, I will get a permission for you, even if I means me committing bribery…     


I burst into tears as I wonder if getting a reply from you is a hopeless dream.


Your dear friend from the North

(a 22 years old university student )



Dear main characters in Star Pizza  

Some while ago I watched an amazing film, and I’m so delighted that I can write a letter to the protagonists. Is it true that this letter will be delivered to In Kyung and Yong Ha in South Korea?

I really enjoyed the scene in which Yong Ha presents the radio to In Kyung. In North Korea you present a radio only to someone whom you trust with your life. It is my wish to have a radio through which I can listen to the sounds from abroad.


Yong Ha, your rendition of a North Korean boy was impressive. But as a North Korean man you are too much of a softy. In North Korea, if a man behaves frivolously like that in front of his girlfriend, he would get dumped the next day.


In Kyung, by any chance, if you get tired of Yong Ha, please let me know. I fancy him. He would feel so free and happy with me.

From North Korea

( a factory worker )


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