Set during the 1948 Jeju Massacre, Jiseul tells the story of some 120 villagers who hid in a cave for sixty 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.
—Sundance Film Festival
Co-presented by: Modern Korean Cinema
Producer: Ko Hyuk-jin
Cinematographer: Yang Jung-hoon
Writer: O Meul
Editor: Lee Do-hyun
Sound: Lee Sang-min