‘Jiseul’ by O Muel
Prominent indie film drew public attention to Jeju 4·3
“Jiseul” (2012) by director O Muel is an award-winning film that drew worldwide public attention to Jeju 4·3. Despite the limits often imposed on indie films, “Jiseul” attracted 144,700 viewers from across the country and is highly acclaimed for having marked a new era in the history of arts related to Jeju 4·3. On Jan. 26, 2013, it won the prestigious World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the 29th Sundance Film Festival, and the festival organizers said that the jury’s decision was unanimous. On Feb. 12 the same year, its artistic value was globally recognized once again with the winning of the Cyclo d’Or, the top prize at the 19th Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema held in France.
“Jiseul” means “potato” in Jeju dialect and in the film it symbolizes survival and hope. In his film, O tells the story of a group of villagers from Donggwang in the Andeok area, who took refuge in the nearby Keunneolgwe (Big Wide Cave) of Doneori Oreum (small volcanic cone) to evade counterinsurgency operations. The film boasts a technically controlled visual beauty in describing an estimated 100 locals who had to stay inside the cave for nearly two months hoping to escape the massacre.