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AFI FEST '14: Haemoo

: 2014
Director: Shim Sung-bo
Writer(s): Shim Sung-bo & Bong Joon-ho
Cinematographer: Hong Kyung-pyo
Cast: Park Yu-Chun, Kim Yun-seok, Han Ye-ri, Lee Hee-joon, Kim Sang-ho

Country of Origin: South Korea
Rating: N/A
Time: 111 min.
Contemporary Korean films have made a reputation of being the most grim experiences out there, replete with unabashed violence, incest, social inequality, and crime – Haemoo has three of those things! Adapted from a play by Kim Min-jung, it’s about a real life incident that occurred when a Korean fishing crew got mixed up in a botched human trafficking operation. Screenwriter-turned-director Shim Sung-bo’s adaptation is a harrowing film riddled with nail-biting suspense and easily accessible blockbuster conventions.
The film takes place in 1998, when the IMF Crisis made life hard for ordinary South Koreans. The owner and captain of a beat-up boat, Kang Chul-joo accepts a high risk job smuggling ethnic Koreans from China in exchange for enough money to save the ship he’s so desperately attached to. Kang doesn’t bother to reveal his desperate plan to his fellow fishermen until they’re out on the treacherous sea, entrapping them in an inevitably doomed arrangement. While everyone seems on board with the plan thanks to the persuasion of a hefty sum, it only takes one of the crew, Dong-sik (Park Yoo-chun), to fall in love with one of the immigrants, leading him to rebel against Kang and his shipmates.

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