For regular readers of this site and those perusers of my Videos, Films & Podcasts [the latter are on iTunes and here: Jason Verney on YouTube] will know that not only have I keen interest in Korean films and Korean culture, the politics of Korea (both South and North) is high up on my list.
Yes, whether attending the monthly Sewol protests – on the third Saturday of every month usually, in Trafalgar Square, London – or other korean related protests & demonstrations, or doing a speech outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, a talk whilst on Jeju about their beautiful island whilst slipping into that video presentation some footage of the area of Gangjeong and the navy base being established there, I keep up with what I can.
Then we have Jeju’s history, its uprising, where so many, many got massacred, as well as a just as important uprising in the city of Gwangju on Korea’s mainland. Furthermore, there’s the place I recently visited where the Sewol ferry itself is currently stood, that place being in the Mokpo area.
Lastly, although there are other things I could mention, there’s the issue of ‘comfort women’ for which I attend demonstrations, talks and in fact the aforementioned little speech outside Seoul’s Japanese Embassy was essentially concerning that subject, and mainly because that’s where the original ‘comfort women’ statue is [there are others across South Korea and elsewhere in the world].
But why, oh why do I ramble on about this?
Well, because there was an incident a little while ago in Yongsan, a district of Seoul which, like the Sewol ferry situation, it barely made the news in the UK or rather it surely did, but briefly – and probably – a day or so.
For the next 3 paragraphs though, I’m borrowing brilliant words and references from a certain Mr Gowman’s superb London Korean Links [because, simply put, he’s put together an introduction to this incident and indeed the two films themselves much better than I could! And, please check out his site for all things Korean related in London, often the UK too and even outside of it!]
“Those of you who have read and love Han Kang’s Human Acts will know that is is inspired not only by the Gwangju uprising but also the Yongsan tragedy. Hwang Jung-eun’s One Hundred Shadows is even more directly inspired by the same tragedy.
It was a news event that was little reported in the Western media, in which six people including a policeman died during a police SWAT team operation in January 2009 to evict protesters from the roof of a building scheduled for demolition as part of a large-scale planned redevelopment of the Yongsan area. Two documentaries at LKFF this year focus on the Yongsan tragedy, by directors Kim Il-rhan, Hong Ji-you and Lee Hyuk-sang.
The incident was a tragedy for many reasons, not just because of the deaths. The protesters who survived the conflagration which occurred during the operation were held jointly responsible for the deaths and were sent to prison. Ironically, because of the 2009 financial crisis the construction project was put on hold. The building was demolished two years later, and the space then lay idle for several years: waste ground that became a car park. The area is only now being redeveloped. One of the documentaries ends with the warning: “The remnants of the tragedy will now forever disappear of you too fail to remember.”
And now, full details of the two films, right after this poster for the first film! – And stay tuned for a SPECIAL OFFER at the end of this article!
“Two Doors” / “두 개의 문”
+ Q&A w/ Creative Director Lee Hyuk-sang
Directed by Kim Il-rhan and Hong Ji-you
Starring Kwon Yeongguk, Kim Hyeongtae, Ryoo Juhyeong
Following the ‘Yongsan Tragedy’ when a sit-in rally in central Seoul was organised to resist a forced eviction resulted in the deaths of five protesters and one police officer, three people involved in the demonstration were arrested and deemed responsible for the lives lost. This documentary is an investigation into what took place and questions the actions of the police who took part in the suppression of the demonstration as well as the role of the government. Two Doors benefits from the high visibility of the incident which resulted in hours of footage taken from CCTV and the recordings from both the press and onlookers being made available to the filmmakers. The access to such resources ensures that audiences are able to see and hear the actions and strategies used by the Korean police to forcibly evict the residents from the building they had been occupying.
Picturehouse Central, 31 Oct 2017 6:30 pm
“The Remnants” / “공동정범”
+ Q&A w/ Director Lee Hyuk-sang
Directed by Kim Il-rhan and Lee Hyuk-sang
Starring Kim Ju-hwan, Kim Chang-su, Lee Chung-yeon
Two Doors investigated the events that took place in Yongsan, amassing documents to question the use of force against the people involved in the occupation of a watchtower as a protest against the redevelopment of a local neighborhood in central Seoul. This follow-up film turns to the personal stories of five people involved in the demonstrations who were accused of legal violations. Where the first film seeks to provide material evidence against the use of violence by state police, The Remnants focuses instead on the personal accounts of what happened. Seven years after, these people try to make sense of the events, the reasons why they fought, sharing their accounts of how the situation escalated into violence.
Picturehouse Central, 01 Nov 2017 6:30 pm
SPECIAL OFFER: For those on a tight budget and/or anyone who likes FREE films [that’s anyone surely?!] head on over to the this link on the London Korean Film Festival’s official website: http://koreanfilm.co.uk/news/documentary-strand-promo-offer
Lastly, I’ll leave you with the LKFF 2017 trailer: