In the 1960s, Choi Eun Hee and Shin Sang Ok were South Korean cinema's first couple. She was a movie star, he was an acclaimed director, and life with their two young children was considered glamorous. Then things got complicated.
Shin had two kids with a younger actress, and his financially struggling production company was shuttered by the government. He and Choi divorced, and in 1978 the actress vanished. Later the same year, Shin also disappeared.
Next stop, North Korea. Choi was kidnapped from Hong Kong on the orders of dictator-in-waiting Kim Jong Il, a movie buff who hoped his country's films could become more mainstream and entertaining.
Shin was also snatched from Hong Kong, it seems, although his story is murkier. The Lovers and the Despot, British filmmakers Rob Cannan and Ross Adam's documentary, capably recounts the main facts of the case, but doesn't illuminate its darker corners.
For those unfamiliar with Choi and Shin, this is a lively introduction. The film follows the abductees to Pyongyang, where they eventually became a couple again. The movies they made in the North are largely unknown elsewhere, but one has become something of a cult item: Pulgasari is a Godzilla-like flick about a monster that grows bigger from eating iron. It's anti-war and anti-authoritarian, Shin has said.