Archive of films The Isle / Seom

South Korea
2000, 89 min

Section: New Korean Cinema
Year: 2001


Away from civilisation is an island where men travel to fish and some to satisfy their sexual desires. A young woman named Hee Jin transports them by boat to their variously coloured wooden huts built directly on the water. Some bring their partners from the city for the weekend, other use the services of prostitutes which can be ‘delivered’ by motorboat, some turn to Hee Jin. One day Hyun Shik comes to the island; he’s an ex-policeman who has the murder of his lover on his conscience. It seems to Hee Jin as if the new visitor to her island has lost all interest in the world around him. After long suffering Hyuk Shik decides to take his own life, but Hee Jin prevents him from doing so. This incident is the beginning of an unusual bond which forms between them. “The isle is the place we all long for, but boredom drives us away. Thus, a man’s isle is a woman, and a woman’s isle is a man. I want to portray the extreme psychology of men and women in that relationship,” says the film’s director.

About the director

Kim Ki Duk (b. 1960) is one of the most noteworthy Korean directors of the younger generation. In his films he focuses on characters who have a hard time reconciling themselves to social conventions and have problems connecting with normal life. He is able to masterfully portray the surprising situations and sudden reversals through which his films are often brought to a climax. He debuted as a director in 1996 with The Crocodile. Wild Animals (1997) and Birdcage Inn (1998) followed, the latter of which was screened at a number of top international festivals including Karlovy Vary (in the Another View section). Upon its premiere in the competition at the Venice IFF, The Isle (2000) literally shocked its audience. The director’s latest effort is Address Unknown, a film sure to elicit a reaction as impassioned as that of The Isle.

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: New Korean Cinema
Director: Kim Ki Duk
Screenplay: Kim Ki Duk
Dir. of Photography: Hwang Suh Shik
Music: Jeon Sang Yun
Editor: Kyung Mun Ho
Producer: Lee Eun
Production: Myung Film
Cast: Suh Jung, Kim Yoo-Seok, Park Sung Hee, Cho Jae Hyun, Jang Hang Sun

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