Monday, 7 June 2010

June Screening: Description of a Bankruptcy

파산의 기술記述 | Description of a Bankrutpcy
Lee Kang Hyun, 2006

+ South Korean labour shorts

With invited speaker Haeyoung Song

Sunday 27th June, 5pm
At 56A Infoshop

'If you ask for my life, I will stab you in the heart'

Four black and white camera angles of a subway station; no sound. A train arrives, people get on and off. The lights of the next train shine from the tunnel. An agitated man descends onto the tracks. His final moments are recorded in monochrome, 15 frames per second, 13, 14, 15.

In 2006's “The Description of Bankruptcy”, director Lee Kang Hyun carries forward the haunting violence of this moment, the despair of an anonymous fate and the events which would compel it to provoke a reflection on the financial crisis of 1997. Images of Seoul are overlapped with radio channel chatter, news reports stream lifestyle advice atop cityscapes. Everyday life passes amongst industrial scenes; an industrial press rapidly stamps paper. One man relates his success story: 'got betting only 100 won', another voice implores us to be mindful of the future: 'If you want to need a wise eye to see your outcomes critically'. Traffic passes through Seoul, and more advice: 'People who don't smile a lot have wrinkles in their face', now a stone-faced man stacks papers in a printing machine, his gloves are stained red. ' out loud as much as you can. One who smiles a lot also has less chance for mental illnesses such as hypochondria.' Workers steam-press clothing in a factory while the radio confidently declares: 'The time has come when all power comes from the people....

In economically burgeoning South Korea, individuals are expendable. Rhythmical editing and dryly ironic narration convert the arid wind evaporating individuality from society into a visual guerilla poem.

You hear so many horrible accidents and crimes from TV and newspapers. But they don't surprise you any more. You may think they are just a part of your daily life. Since around 2000 in Korea, there have been tons of strange murders. There are no killers and no suspects, but people are murdered every day. Someone calls them, "social murders". However, these everyday terrible crimes do not shock anybody. They are just filling a small corner of a newspaper. No alarms and no surprises. No efforts to stop them. What has thrown you into such a dead apathy?

Soap dramas are still attracting many people all over the world. It means old orders are so strong and sturdy that they are moving the world even after they seem to have disappeared.

A pamphlet created on the occasion of this screening is available here:

Recent radio interview (Sept 2010) with Loren Goldner on the making of the Korean working class: