Before becoming the world's most notorious dictator, Kim Jong-Il ran North Korea's film industry. He directed every film made in the country but knew they were nothing compared to Hollywood. Then he hit on the perfect solution: order the kidnapping of South Korea's most famous actress and her ex-husband, the country's most acclaimed director.

In a jaw-dropping mission the couple were kidnapped, held hostage and then 'employed' to make films for the Dear Leader, including a remake of Godzilla. They gained Kim's trust - but could they escape?

“A gripping and surprisingly timely new book” — The New York Times

“A stupefying, novelistic read” — The Boston Globe

“Gripping, absurd, harrowing” Esquire

“Incredible…diamond-sharp on North Korea’s many, many paradoxes…a fascinating and often disturbing look at what storytelling and movie-love can do in service of a country that doesn’t actually serve its people…absurdist, touching…an extraordinary story" — Flavorwire

“Fascinating…the film of this book, when it comes, will be the most exciting movie Kim Jong-Il ever played a part in creating” — The Times (UK)

“A nightmarish, clammy adventure story, an absolutely brilliant page turner” — Daily Mail

“Reminds us that ludicrousness and brutality can thrive side-by-side…detailed and rigorously researched…this is bold, pacey, stranger-than-fiction stuff” — The Independent

“A thriller, with daring getaways, double-crosses and a despotic villain; a love story, in which the kidnapped artists’ romance is rekindled in the most unlikely circumstances; and a fascinating portrait of Kim, a pint-sized tyrant whose charisma and showmanship impress even his captives…heartbreaking” — Newsday

Nominated for the Crime Writers’ Association Best Non-Fiction Book Award (2015)

Longlisted for the Goodreads Choice Awards, Best History & Biography (2015)