NON FICTION DIARY
Directed by Jung Yoon-suk
Mecenat Award, 2013 Busan International Film Festival
NETPAC Prize, 2014 Berlin Film Festival
Official Selection, 2014 New York Film Festival
Clenching the same bloodied hammer and chilling logic of Oldboy, NON FICTION DIARY may be the most gripping documentary to come out of Korea, ever. Half bravura documentary, half psycho-political thriller, NON FICTION DIARY goes down a rabbit hole of violence that connects the rural poor to the very highest echelons of power, and along the way paints a searing portrait of the endemic injustice bred by South Korea’s neoliberal expansion during the 1990s.
The film’s unnerving rabbit is the Jijon Clan (“Supreme Gangsters”), a band of poor rural young men and South Korea’s first serial murderers, who carried out a savagely warped form of class warfare tinged with ancestral fervor. Their goal: to kill the rich, until they themselves became millionaires. NON FICTION DIARY sets the story of their public capture and sentencing within a nation gut-punched by the collapses of the Seongsu Bridge (1994) and Sampoong department store (1995), one of the deadliest building failures in history. The film is rich with thoughtful interviews from eyewitness police detectives and wardens with profound changes of heart, media clips and crime scene photographs which reveal a nation jockeying to diagnose the unfathomable, and a scope that touches on presidential decrees, religious lobbying, and Confucianism’s role in tax breaks.
Filmmaker Jung Yoon-suk is both systematic and poetic, historically sweeping and riveting. He has crafted an utterly fascinating film with chilling currency after the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster which killed 476 high school students in a chain of similar events. NON FICTION DIARY has the power of a parable under the guise of a documentary, and a deliriously ambitious mission to probe what binds inhuman crimes to crimes against humanity. –Christina Ree