Haemoo (2014)

31 Jan


Moody and atmospheric, this Korean film is one not to be missed for lovers of suspense. Based on the stage play of the same name, which in turn built it’s fictional narrative around the real life suffocation of 25 illegal Chinese-Korean immigrants, at it’s core Haemoo is a creepy tale of greed, lust, love and fate. 

The story begins with a down on his luck captain turning to people smuggling in order to buy back his fishing trawler. Crew and passengers begin to wary of each other quickly, and things go from bad to worse as tensions escalate. When the Maritime police show up the passengers are forced into the fishing hold, only to suffocate after a gas leak. Soon the crew are turning on one another, as one man tries to hide his immigrant love who has witnessed everything.

Haemoo is by no means perfect. The character representations border on lazy, and the narrative transitions are not as smooth as they could have been. That being said, the film makes bold comments on social and gender inequalities in Korea, and director Shim Sung-bo succeeds in creating an atmosphere of spine chilling suspense that is as creepy as it is shocking. It’s a rough diamond, but Haemoo is well worth watching.




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