HUMOR may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the citizens of North Korea, a country known mostly for militant anti-Western propaganda, chronic food shortages and an internationally isolated government pursuing nuclear weapons.

And yet audiences at the 11th Pyongyang International Film Festival here clearly enjoyed themselves this fall during screenings of Western dramas and comedies, occasionally even erupting into riotous laughter.

North Korea’s Very Cautious Cinematic Thaw” (New York Times 21 Nov 2008)