The very first western feature film broadcast on North Korea’s state television service was Bend it Like Beckham, but cuts and changes were made before broadcast.

North Koreans across the country were offered the chance to see the Gurinder Chadha-directed footballing feature to mark ten years of diplomatic ties between Britain and North Korea.

The North Korean officials must have been concerned with some of the messages within the Keira Knightley-led feature, opting to cut eight minutes of footage.

Originally released in the UK in 2002, Bend it Like Beckham received its North Korean premiere on December 26, 2010.

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North Korea showed the film to mark ten years of diplomacy between Britain and North Korea

Although the Parminder Nagra-starring feature was shown at 112 minutes in the UK premiere, North Korean audiences were shown a slightly shorter 104 minute feature, suggesting some editing before broadcast.

At the time, UK Ambassador to South Korea Martin Uden said it was the “first ever Western-made film to air on TV” in North Korea.

The Beckham-inspired feature must have been a treat for North Koreans, whose state television is primarily animations, hagiographies of its leaders and images celebrating the country’s army, model farms and villages.

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Bend it Like Beckham picked up an award at the Pyongyang Film Festival 2004
Bend it Like Beckham picked up an award at the Pyongyang Film Festival 2004

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Mr Uden said the broadcast had been arranged by the British embassy, and that during the broadcast a placard appeared to notify viewers watching Bend it Like Beckham that it was to celebrate a decade of diplomacy between North Korea and Britain.

Reports indicate this was the first time North Korea had ever observed the celebration of diplomatic anniversaries by showcasing a film from that country.

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Bend it Like Beckham features the football-mad stars kick about plenty of times throughout the runtime, a sport believed to be beloved among North Koreans, BBC reports.

But the film also depicts topics considered taboo in North Korea, such as interracial relationships, homosexuality and religion.

Oddly enough, the film had picked up an award at the Pyongyang Film Festival in 2004, winning in the “Best Music” category.



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