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The Isle (2000)

Seom (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | 22 April 2000 (South Korea)
Working at a fishing resort in an idyllic location, but surrounded by various facets of human unpleasantness, a young mute woman falls in love with a man on the run from the law for committing murder.


Ki-duk Kim


Ki-duk Kim
7 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Jung Suh ... Hee-Jin
Yu-seok Kim Yu-seok Kim ... Hyun-Shik (as Yoosuk Kim)
Jae-Hyun Cho ... Mang-Chee (as Jae-hyeon Jo)
Hang-Seon Jang Hang-Seon Jang ... Middle-aged man
Min-seok Son Min-seok Son ... Dal-Soo
Ji-Seon Han Ji-Seon Han ... Jeong-Ah
Jeong-sik Kang Jeong-sik Kang ... 40-Year-Old Fisherman
Hye-kyeong Choi Hye-kyeong Choi ... Young lady 1
Seon-hwa Jeon Seon-hwa Jeon ... Young lady 2
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yeo-jin Kim
Won Seo Won Seo
Seung-heon Song
Learn more

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Mute Hee-Jin is working as a clerk in a fishing resort in the Korean wilderness; selling baits, food and occasionally her body to the fishing tourists. One day she falls in love to Hyun-Shik, who is on the run for the police and rescues him with a fish hook, when he tries to commit suicide. Written by Moritz Muehlenhoff <jmm@inutil.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

fishing | fish hook | police | mute | fish | See All (108) »


Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?

Alternate Versions

The cut UK print was submitted to the Irish censor who cited the violence as causing concern - he gave the distributor (Tartan Films) two options:
  • Resubmit the same version (presumably for an appeal/reconsideration)
  • Submit an altered version to secure a certificate
They went with the latter, despite the changes not being required under law - this censored version was certified 18 on September 29, 2004. The cuts totaled 3m 15s on top of the UK's 1m 50s to animal cruelty - the running time of the Irish print is 84m 53s compared to the UK's 88m 8s. No details for the cuts or justification for the decision were made available. An article in the Irish Times issue dated October 1, 2004 explains it in further detail: "The Isle was due to open at UGC Cinemas in Dublin on September 10th as part of the touring Asia Extreme season organised by the London-based distributors, Tartan Films. On that date, showings of the South Korean film were listed in all the daily UGC advertisements, and a display ad for the film was run in The Ticket, as was Donald Clarke's review. But the film never opened and has yet to receive a public screening in Ireland. The Isle was submitted to the censor's office on September 8th, just two days before it was due to be released - very late notice at an exceptionally busy period for new releases. John Kelleher, the film censor, made time to view it the next day, but found that some elements of the film required serious consideration. "We contacted Tartan and drew attention to scenes of sexual violence and explicit self-mutilation that were causing us concern," he says. "It was entirely up to Tartan Films if they wanted to resubmit the same version of the film, or a different version." Tartan subsequently submitted an altered version of the film, which was viewed by Kelleher on Wednesday morning and passed with an 18 certificate. The film had already been cut by 110 seconds by the British Board of Film Classification because of a scene of animal cruelty. In his three-star review, Donald Clarke noted "the notorious scene in which the female lead, part avenging angel, part lady of the lake, inserts fishhooks into her vagina and then, as if that were not uncomfortable enough, hauls them out again". He also noted that in the film's "envelope-pushing shock therapy, the hero does something similar to his esophagus." The Isle will probably open at the end of the Asia Extreme season, on November 5th." See more »


Referenced in Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003) See more »

User Reviews

Beautiful but gruesome
14 June 2018 | by Smallclone100See all my reviews

Wow, where to start with this. Ki Duk Kim has always been a divisive director, with his films showing slow burning, very natural, almost spiritual human traits. This though is like a magnified version of a Ki Duk Kim film. It's low budget, set in a single location, stunningly beautiful, very gruesome in parts, explicit and controversial. It centres around a lonely woman (Hee Jin) who delivers bait to tourist fisherman. What we see unfold is a symbolism heavy ride into a twisted / tumultuous relationship between Hee Jin and a visitor. It's full of breathtaking cinematography, sparse dialogue and one of the most stomach churning suicide attempts I've ever seen on screen. As usual with Ki Duk Kim, water as a symbol is featured heavily, and so are animals and nature. Quite why certain little creatures are sacrificed on screen I'm not sure though. A warning to anyone who is easily offended by animal cruelty - don't watch this movie.

What does it all mean in the end? I'm torn between it being an entire metaphor for how difficult relationships can be / an exploration into gender roles or a simple descent into madness tale. Maybe all 3. It is a heck of an experience though. Think of a Pedro Almodóvar movie mixed with a bit of Takashi Miike, maybe with a bit of Haneke in there too, and you may get the picture.

It's beautiful yet gruesome. I have to take a mark off for the animal cruelty, as it is bordering on unacceptable levels at times, but it still gets a 7.5/10

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South Korea



Release Date:

22 April 2000 (South Korea) See more »

Also Known As:

The Isle See more »

Filming Locations:

South Korea


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,546, 25 August 2002

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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