Mini Mini Min’s previous Featured Films were the French “LITTLE WHITE LIES”, the Hong Kong made “SPARROW” and Korean “ARIRANG”. This time, we stay focused on Korea but by way of a documentary – it’s a film which has even more political statements within than a Kim Ki-duk film! Enjoy… If that’s the right word…:
Film: Gureombi – The Wind Is Blowing
Director: CHO Sung Bong (조 성 봉)
Members of conglomerates
- Shown at BIFF 2013 – Busan International Film Festival 2013
- World Premiere
The wind is blowing and the music in the air is humming the following words – just picture it, if you will…
“Jeju-do… do… do…
…do… do… do…
do… do… you know of it?”
[A completely made up song, in case you’re expecting to hear that in the film – although I’m sure you’re already hoping that you don’t!]
Where it is? What it is, even?
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting this fine place of Jeju-do, an island just off the South coast of South Korea. If you like, it’s South of the South, of South Korea.
In fact, I almost revisited it whilst in Korea this time around. However, upon my first visit around one year ago, the island had already intrigued me enough to see it. Just Google it and you’ll see a picture showing many of its scenic delights and unusualarities.
There was one other thing though which gave me concern, cause and craving to see this fine isle. This craving was not one of good taste but instead one of longing to see the area of the island being harmed.
Now, I don’t mean harm from pollution, as such and nor do I mean there is an area being eroded by the sea. No… This harm is man made. And… So is this documentary which ‘documents’ (obviously) the problem occurring RIGHT NOW on Jeju.
Gureombi opens with a sweeping shot of the landscape inhabiting and encompassing Jeju. I must add that this footage differs to a snippet I’d seen in the lead up to its Premiere here at Busan, that being a trailer of sorts.
Once this shot is over, and as picturesque-wise as it is it’s a shame that it ends. [too many ‘it’s?] But the story must be told.
Incidentally, I’d seen similar footage of what was to face us next, thanks (?!) to Facebook pals, and in particular a certain Benjamin from France. Benji is one of the activists – although he prefers to be referred to as not an activist, but just “born with a heart” – whom has since been banned from re-entering the Korean Peninsula. But it wasn’t from want of trying to stop what is happening there.
Yes, in this first scene we see a man being bullied to leave his protesting and I guess ‘just accept what is happening’.
This, and further scenes are pretty harsh. Not bloody but terrifying and a little violent – not violence to cause harm or bruising. You see, those behind what is happening would not want to see themselves as causing harm. Ironic, considering that it is indeed HARM they are causing to the island.
If you’re unsure as to what I’m relating already, it’s simple really. A navy base is being built on Jeju island. Indeed. This peaceful island, home for many, many years and to many, many people is being invaded by… well, by a combination of bodies. Not bodies per se – not zombies, not an invasion of body snatchers but a governmental, conglomerate and militia one. An overthrow to people’s lives and beautiful country.
I have to say that some of these scenes meant the cameraman and director – one and the same, or not – had to get pretty close to all this ‘action’. Of course, thinking I’d meet the director and crew again later – and indeed I may still – I thought I’d pose the question of “HOW?!” Even at he Q & A at the Busan International Film Festival screening which I attended, nobody asked it, me included of course. Or rather, ‘excluded’ is perhaps more apt.
I know, I know, I should have done. I guess I shouldn’t make matters worse by saying that I went for a ‘festival wrap’ party in Busan with those involved but still DIDN’T ask… Oops I’ve just told you. More fool me, as they say.
The fact is that these scenes take up much of the feature… But they are necessary. Necessary so that we can see what’s going on, and essential to see the extent of all that’s occurring. This is no ‘arguing for arguing’s sake’ situation.
One feisty and memorable character in the picture is a female protestor. She bolsters away those trying to enter into the (intended) naval base area with her frontal body. Just like a bull.
Two moments stand out regarding this woman. One, where she suggests that if she were to strip they could not touch her… and later this is undertaken, at least partially. We need some humour in a tale of such woe. The other is one of where she is singing, and every time a vehicle drives past she abruptly pauses to greet them ‘hello’ or bid them ‘farewell’, whatever is relevant.
It should be stated that Gureombi (구럼비)* really refers to the area connected to Gangjeong which is made up of rocks, and in which sea life, water and all that goes with this live as one. Yes, it’s almost as if the rocks really breathe and not only this they, the water, the creatures and whatnot keep one another alive.
People can also become as one with these rocks too, this I’m sure.
The latter points are proven when a dancer whom suffers from a type of cancer comes to the rocks and dances. She hopes her dancing sends good wishes to the area itself, and perhaps in return the dancer is looking for a kind of healing power to wrap around her & overcome such an illness.
*Gureombi (구럼비) – I found this an interesting word to play on. You see, the word ‘gurum’ (구럼) and its sound pretty much means ‘then’. Even ‘then’ in itself could be an indicative word of the hope or on the opposite side of things, the fear. The word ‘bi’ (비) can mean ‘rain’. With the two together we have “Then, rain” – an apt title it would be, and a reflection of the downpour of sadness, overruling and literal rain, perhaps even caused by the splashes of the waves against the rocks, but nonetheless a feeling of the sky’s water on this isle.
There are many parts of this film which remind me of Ashes to Honey [AshesToHoney], none more so than when these life-loving protestors are megaphoning ‘enemy boats’ and clambering on them. The antagonists of this story, on the boats do their best to crush the protestors chances, and almost their bones too. Again, these evillers are being very careful to keep their Korean-ness and at the same time hold on to their own integrity.
You’d think these invaders would be worried. Publicity for governing bodies, conglomerate electronic, shipbuilding and homebuilding companies & the US & Korean navy could be severely negatived. Even one protestor involved with trying to overthrow the boats states words along the lines of “Would a real navy member hurt someone in such a way”, referencing their crushing and overthrowing, both theses people and hearts. He was stating that surely the navy are meant to protect, not harm.
How did this happen, get permitted and be allowed to get this far? Well, it’s probably more than fair to say that a lack of democracy plays a massive part. Even the mayor has little say, and even has opted for the safest route himself by (regrettably?) agreeing. This is how it seems.
The lack of democracy is commonplace in many countries and it seems that Korea is no exception. Sure there would have been a vote… But would the vote have MEANT ANYTHING?!
You’d also think that there would have been positives stated to the island folk as to the navy base, it’s benefits etc. From this film, it seems to display that nothing has been said for the reasonings, growth in income or popularity for Jeju in having such a base there.
Even popularity should not be a place’s main concern. Jeju already has its share of visitors and holiday makers. These are often Koreans themselves, Japanese and anywhere else.
This would mean soldiers abound on the south of the island, or indeed ultimately anywhere on the isle, but as proven by places like Hawaii this does more harm than good. Jeju has its own quiet place in the world. Sure it has perhaps one too many museums for such a small place – many of which are completely irrelevant as ‘souvenirs of an island’, nor relate to the island’s history – but it works fine as it is.
So… What’s the reasoning behind this navy base? Apart from money? Well, WE are all told that it is to protect South Korea from the North, ‘should they ever strike’. But, doesn’t that seem a little strange? A base so far south it seems truly nonsensical? Surely people would agree that the millions spent on American soldiers, and worse still ARTILLERY already existing in the South Korean mainland would be enough?
What else could it be?
Hmmm, what’s the second largest continent and powerhouse for so many, many things? What place could ‘be a threat to the US’, if not in a warlike way but a money, power and weapons direction?
‘Could-Hurt-If-Nuked-America’ = C.H.I.N.A…?
Mini Mini Movie just wants to state at this point that this assumption is one based on collective thoughts – many of them – and also reasonings, as well as what history has taught us so far.
Even as a side-issue, the US soldiers currently ‘assisting’ the probably more than capable Korean ones, are due to leave them to their own devices in a couple of years. I’m guessing that if they do not leave Northern South Korea, this will mean that Jeju would give them another platform to position a kind of bullying team towards China?
Indeed, we could be wrong.
Is this a win-win situation for the US government? I mean, if the troops do leave South Korean mainland, then “Hey! It’s ok boys, we have our other newer, better base in Jeju!”
MMM has drifted from the film itself, but it’s all relative.
That said, when the film ends, it does so in similar sweeping fashion as with the start. An overheard camera [which I later learnt was attached to a remote control flying device] shows us an extremely long line of yellow shirted protestors, planet lovers, war dislikers and people born with hearts. It follows the line right up to the end of the land and therefore over the sea.
Similarly, there is truly much love invested in this film and for the island itself. You could say enough money and hearts to match the amount invested in the navy base & non-loving itself.
This film taught me a few new things about this ‘strange warlike decision’ but its real audience will be those who know very little, or even nothing about the situation.
Lastly, it must have been comforting to have producer, director, actor and man of many talents, Mr Oliver Stone visit the area for a few days and I’d just like to say, from one director to another, and another (if you include the director of GUREOMBI – The Wind Is Blowing) keep up the good work, whether in art form or not – because these problems will always exist without awareness.
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