Little-known in the West, Korean director Shin Sang-ok was one of the driving forces behind the rise of the now-thriving Korean film industry. Trained in Japan, Shin returned to Korea after World War II, when the national industry was in its fledging stages, and started his own wildly prolific production company just a few years later, leading Korean film into its Golden Age. Though none of his work is available in the US, it is held in high regard at home, where he is "one of those rare ... directors [receiving both] popular and critical acclaim."

If Shin's name is known abroad at all, it's for what happened later in his career when, while working in Hong Kong in 1978, he was kidnapped by representatives of North Korean president (and massive movie fan) Kim Jong-Il, who wanted the director to revitalize hid own country's flagging film industry. Shin escaped eight years later while on a trip abroad, and actually spent some time in Hollywood (producing forgettable fare under the name Simon Sheen) before returning to South Korea in 2000.

Shin was 80 when he died, and had been suffering from liver problems.
categories Movies, Cinematical