The University of Toronto’s Centre for the Study of Korea presents The Afterlives of the Korean War Symposium, a two-day event that aims to bring together scholars, artists, filmmakers, and students to explore the multifaceted ways that unfinished wars are lived, experienced, imagined, and transformed. Reel Asian is proud to co-present the screening of Jiseul as part of this program.
In this compelling black-and-white portrait, director O Meul depicts the massacre at Korea’s Jeju island with heart-wrenching realism. In 1948, an uprising erupted in Jeju (the birthplace of O Meul) after the South Korean military fired on a demonstration commemorating the end of Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea. After a decree from the U.S. Military classifying all inhabitants within five kilometres of the coast as “rioters” and ordering their execution, over 120 villagers were forced to hide in a cave and fight for their survival.
Expertly crafted in documentary style, Jiseul depicts brutality, human perseverance, struggle and loss. The stark and wintry landscape of Jeju is skillfully framed by cinematographer Jung-Hoon Yang. O Meul’s striking epic explores the senselessness of war and the tenacity of the human spirit. – EK
Screening is followed by a Q&A with Toronto filmmaker Min Sook Lee.