Korean with English subtitles, 2012, 108 minutes, b/w, South Korea, World Dramatic
Set during the 1948 Jeju Massacre in Korea, Jiseul tells the story of some 120 villagers who hid in a cave for 60 days from soldiers who were under shoot-to-kill orders. They suffer from severe cold and hunger but retain their sanity by making jokes and holding on to the hope that their wait is almost over. Eventually their endurance wanes, and fear begins to test the group’s mettle.
The absurdity-of-war theme has been explored in many films, but rarely in such exquisite detail as in this offering from writer/director Muel O. Striking black-and-white cinematography captures the texture of the region as well as the humanity of its inhabitants. The film doesn’t condemn anyone but rather focuses on the heart of the story—real people living in fear. Powerful and tender, Jiseul is at certain times hard to watch because of the content and at others extremely engaging because of the authentic human emotion. O has crafted a potent and poetic requiem for a people and a place close to his heart. - T.G.
About the Director
As a representative of the Jeju-based independent culture project, Terror J, director Muel O chooses to direct films set on his native Jeju Island. Born in 1971, O has directed several feature films—most recently Nostalgia in 2009—in addition to various plays and performances. He also organized a street art festival called Flower for a Jeju Head, is codirector at the Jeju Independent Film Society, and acts as artistic director of the Japari Research Center.
Cast and Credits
Director: Muel O
Screenwriter: Muel O
Producer: Hyuk-jin Ko
Cinematographer: Jung-hoon Yang
Editor: Do-hyun Lee
Music: Song-e Jeon
Sound: Sang-min Lee
Principal Cast: Min-chul Sung, Jung-won Yang, Young-soon Oh, Soon-dong Park, Suk-bum Moon, Kyung-sub Jang
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