Source AP ©

Home theater system to butter up NKorean leader

South Korea is considering whether to present North Korea's No. 1 cinema buff, leader Kim Jong Il, a new home theater system.

A South Korean official confirmed Wednesday that the government is considering giving Kim a new audio-video setup along with DVDs of South Korean hit movies as one of the gifts South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun will take when he meets Kim next month.

The gift idea was first reported by the Hankook Ilbo newspaper, and reportedly could include the latest South Korean blockbuster "Dragon Wars," which is still in theaters and not yet out on DVD for the regular public. The movie is also screening in the U.S.

"The idea was floated as Kim likes movies," a South Korean official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

South Korean presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-seon said it was "inappropriate for him to make public" the list of gifts under consideration because no decision has been made yet.

Roh is to be joined on the summit trip by executives from South Korean consumer electronics companies Samsung and LG, leading makers of home entertainment devices.

Kim is said to be a movie fan who has about 20,000 foreign films in his private library and lives a life of opulence in stark contrast with the vast majority of his impoverished populace. He reportedly has produced several films himself, mostly historical epics with an ideological tinge.

Kim's love of films also resulted in the kidnapping of Shin Sang-ok, a South Korean film director, and his actress wife, Choi Eun-hee, nearly three decades ago.

The couple said that in North Korea they were friendly with Kim and quoted him as telling them that he personally ordered them "brought" to North Korea to help develop the country's film industry.

The couple escaped to the West in 1986 during a brief stopover in Vienna, Austria, while en route to a film festival in Berlin.

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung gave male and female South Korean dogs to North Korea's Kim as a gift at their summit in 2000, the first between leaders of the two Koreas since the peninsula was split after World War II. North Korea's Kim gave Kim Dae-jung two North Korean dogs in return.

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