Choi Eun-hee

Active - 1965  |   Born - 1928 in Korea  |  

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Wife of famous Korean director Shin Sang Okk and partner in his production company, Shin Films Co., Ltd., Choi Eun-hee was one of the biggest female stars of the mid-century Golden Era of Korean cinema. Her first role was in 1947's A New Oath and she went on to star in more than 100 films, many of them directed by her husband. In addition to acting, she was also one of Korea's pioneering women directors, making three features between 1965 and 1972. Her directorial efforts often have strong female characters dealing with class conflicts. Future Wife, in which she also stars, is about an ancient custom in which poor women were sold to wealthier families as laborers, and the period drama Princess in Love is about a strong-willed princess who falls in love with a commoner. Like her husband, Choi is now known around the world for having been kidnapped by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il in 1978. The world's most notorious film buff felt Shin and Choi's talents were going to waste in South Korea, and he wanted their skills to make the propaganda films he planned to produce. They were held separately for several years before being reunited and essentially forced to make films for Kim. (Choi directed her fourth film there, Salt [1985].) The couple escaped during a state-sponsored visit to Vienna in 1986. Although her husband continued to occasionally produce and direct after their escape, Choi has since retired from the film industry.