The story behind this film may be more interesting than the film itself. Unlike the other films on this website, this film was produced in North Korea, not South Korea. According to news reports, current North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (son of former leader Kim Il-Sung) is a big movie fan, and in 1978 he had his agents abduct two South Korean movie personalities, director Shin Sang-Ok and his wife, actress Choe Un-Hee.
These two made at least two movies in North Korea. As near as I can tell, Pulgasari: The Legendary Monster (1985) was the last one. Shortly after it was completed, Shin and Choe fled to America. For this reason, or perhaps for reasons of content, the movie was shelved for years. In 1998 the film was championed by a Japanese film critic, and was released in Japan, apparetly to some sucess.
In March of 2001, ADV released the film on tape in the US. To buy it, click here.
The movie takes place in Korea during the 14th century. Taksae is a blacksmith who rebels against the harsh tyrant that runs the country. He is jailed and tortured. His daughter Ami brings him some food, which he uses to build a small doll before he dies.
Ami acquires the doll, and after she bleeds on it, it comes to life. It then begins eating all the iron it can find, and it grows at a fantastic rate.
The doll, named Pulgasari, saves Ami's lover from execution, then joins the peasant rebellion against the land's tyrant. The tyrant tries several methods to kill the monster, but to no avail. The tyrant is defeated.
But after the tyrant is gone, Pulgasari turns on the peasants. He is destroyed when Ami sacrifices herself to him. (Compiled from various sources)
Pictures and Screencaps
These two figures are from Marmit. These were Theater Exclusives. According to Club Tokyo, there were also red and black variations.
Commie Monster Madness! - Magazine article about the Japanese premiere of Pulgasari.
First NK Monster Faces Hollywood-Born Godzilla in Japan - Korean site that summarizes Pulgasari.
Info on Kim Jong-Il - Background on Shin Sang-Ok.
ADV Films - The US distributors of the film.
Final Thoughts, Notes, and News
The poster the head of the page is for the Japanese release. The logo used resembles the one used on the Japanese poster for Godzilla (1998).
To continue the Godzilla connections, the special effects team on this film worked on the latter day Godzilla films.
The overall story is very similar to plot of the Japanese monster film Daimajin (aka Majin, Monster of Terror).
Director Shin Sang-Ok came to the US and took on the name Simon Sheen. Sheen has been a mover and shaker behind the 3 Ninjas movies. He was also involved in a quasi-remake of Pulgasari called The Adventures of Galgameth. You can read about that project here.
Recently (June of 2000) there was a summit between North and South Korea, and because of this, Pulgasari was shown in the South for the first time. The Associated Press reported that the film was a big flop in the South.