In 1950's, a populace of a South Korean island rebels against police brutality. The protesters are labeled as communists and the army is dispatched. One small village will be hit especially hard that day. Based on historical events.

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Min-chul Sung
Jung-won Yang
Young-soon Oh
Suk-bum Moon
Kyung-sub Jang
Sung-wook Uh
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In 1950's, a populace of a South Korean island rebels against police brutality. The protesters are labeled as communists and the army is dispatched. One small village will be hit especially hard that day. Based on historical events.

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21 March 2013 (South Korea)  »

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Potato  »

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Sundance 2013 Premiere
22 January 2013 | by (trentflix.com) – See all my reviews

I just saw Jisuel/Ji Seul at the US Premiere at Sundance 2013. Writer/Director Meul O. was there to introduce the film and do a brief Q&A as well. This is Meul O.'s first film made on a very low budget, shot in digital and released in Black & White. The film is about orders given by the US Military in 1948 (more on that later) to assume anyone outside of a specific zone is labeled as a communist and is to be shot on sight. Regardless of the historicity of the film, the movie itself has some major problems.

There are a number of characters on-screen, some of which we get to know but most of the characters aren't well defined, because of the black and white and their being in a cave most of the time it's hard to tell who is speaking. Because they aren't fleshed out I really didn't care about any of them, of course I don't want a pregnant woman to die or anything bad to happen to anyone because I have a heart but I didn't care enough about the characters or their struggle because they were mostly two- dimensional. Because of this the big emotional scenes of horror, laughter or sadness didn't have the emotional impact (if any) that it should have. The choice of it being a Black and White movie lead to some great artistic moments and scenes but it also caused some problems. There were titles throughout the film, apparently separating it into chapters (they didn't make add anything for me really, except mark that the film was going on a bit too long) they were always black Korean characters and sometimes I didn't even know they were on-screen except that the italicized subtitles were on-screen. Black-on black is quite hard to see.

The film is set on Jeju Island, the home of Meul O. and the financial sponsor of this film. The people on the island feel this tragedy has been ignored or forgotten by Korea and the world, and in fact, one of the problems is that there is little if any historical record of it taking place, especially the US government's involvement. The US government has denied any knowledge of the order and was not in charge of the South Korean military at the time as its presence was very limited. The subtitles at the end of the film went by pretty quickly but this affected the 120 islanders on Jeju who hid in caves, most of whom were killed and it stated that it is assumed this affected 30,000 others as well (I may have that wrong, the subtitles at the end went by too quickly). All of the violence is done by the hands of the South Korean soldiers but the emphasis on it being under the US Military's orders is made quite clear. The evidence is only a few first-hand accounts from survivors so we may never know the exact details of what happened but the movie assumes it as a matter-of-fact without explanation or evidence. I think a more-interesting film would have involved documenting the survivor's stories and trying to find evidence of the US's involvement in the order.


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