Sunday, April 3, 2011

행당동 사람들 (1994)

Haengdang-dong People sees documentary director Gim Dongwon return to his old cause, this time rallying around the people of Haengdang-dong, another community of urban poor that is facing eviction.

However, unlike the downbeat ends to the previous stories, Gim reports a noticeably positive ending here and a return to the style of Sanggye-dong Olympics, complete with all the strengths of having a concrete set of people to focus on and the weakness of having an ambiguous narrator speak "for the people". Gim is much more restrained here, avoiding rhetorical editing and almost exclusively focusing on the story of the people who resist eviction and struggle to keep their community intact and healthy. The turn in his continuing observations is that Gim sees that the greater organization and unity of the tenants (and even owners) of these communities can score them victories against the corporate and private interests that threaten to evict them for reconstruction, deprive them of monies owed and promised future housing by pricing them out of the new apartments.

However, aside from those new developments, this is still largely the same story as before, recorded with better equipment (or perhaps better surviving the decay of time), in the same style. I do like that there seems to be a greater amount of real captured sound versus narration which lends greater believability as the narration ties well together with what people are saying, however, I still find it a crutch that saps from the authenticity of the documentary. I think it would be better if it were written from his perspective or the writer identified by the documentary. Still, I'd say that, watching this in light of his related films does lend to a larger story and that makes this an interesting and hope-giving watch. 7/10.

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