소셜포비아 (Socialphobia)

소셜포비아 (Socialphobia)

A KAFA Production
Distribution: CGV Arthouse
Rating: 15 and Over
Genre: Thriller
Running Time: 102 Min
Shooting Time: 2013/Oct/18~2014/Jan/06 (25 Dates)
Release: 2015/Mar/12

WITH 변요한 (Byeon Yo-Han) as Ji-Woong; 이주승 (Lee Ju-Seung) as Yong-Min; 하윤경 (Ha Yoon-Gyeong) as Lena; 류준열 (Ryu Joon-Yeol) as BJ Yangge; 오희준 (Oh Hee-Joon) as Soldier; 이강욱 (Lee Gang-Wook) as Oh Hyung-Joo; 박근록 (Park Geun-Rok) as Moon-Hyeok;

CREW Director 홍석재 (Hong Seok-Jae) Executive Producer 유영식 (Yoo Young-Shik) 최익환 (Choi Ik-Hwan) | Screenplay 홍석재 (Hong Seok-Jae) | Director of Photography 이성중 (Lee Seong-Joong) Lighting 문일호 (Moon Il-Ho) Editor 박민선 (Park Min-Seon) Music 김해원 (Kim Hae-Won) Art Direction 김은지 (Kim Eun-Ji) 최지애 (Choi Ji-Ae) Action Choreography 김용호 (Kim Yong-Ho) | Assistant Director 조현민 (Jo Hyun-Min)

BOX OFFICE
KOFIC Nationwide
TOTAL REVENUE: 1,958,557,963 Won
TOTAL ADMISSIONS: 249,013
BUDGET: 200,000,000 Won

Photo ⓒ KAFA, CGV Arthouse

SYNOPSIS

People tend to be intentionally provocative or extremely argumentative over petty matters on twitter. A woman who challenges men becomes targeted as a public enemy. Young men expose her identity and even show up on her doorstep. But what they find is MIN Ha-young, the woman who had hanged herself. What caused her death? Was it by suicide or murder? Socialphobia addresses the question of adopting a different identity on the Internet through the death of a woman. Two young men Ji-woong and Yong-min who were preparing for the police academy exam become involved in the case. What apparently looks like suicide is held under suspicion by the two as foul play. After posing the possibility of homicide, the young men return to the crime scene. However mystery itself does not seem to be the point of this film as it gradually exposes during the course of finding the truth to MIN Ha-young’s death, her life as it really was and what the two men in pursuit of the real cause of her death wanted to prove. [KoBiz]

IN SHORT

If anyone has been exposed to how brutally inhumane digital natives in Korea can get (especially when acting in a group and boldened by the feeling that they're free from reproof), it will certainly have made them ponder what is the underlying cause for all that social decadence. I'd look at what I believe to be the root of the problem, namely the obsession with creating a new digital “Miracle on the Han” in the early-to-mid 2000s without first getting rid of certain social “perks” of the previous miracle led by Park Jung-Hee and his horde of yesmen. If you create a society of subservient, productive drones at the use and abuse of corporations with no space for independent thought, and then magically open the gates for them and their children to an infinitely interconnected world where they can be unquestioned gods of their social microcosm and finally express their inner sense (to borrow a page from Kant), don't be surprised if most basic social tenets are ignored at the altar of the proverbial 15 minutes of fame. A decent starting point for a film, then. Right?

Indie director Hong Seok-Jae captures that social maelstrom quite adeptly in what probably counts as the strongest cinematic statement of his young career. I say that because while the look of the film is not particularly accomplished compared to today's shiny Chungmuro “bling,” it achieves a distinctive communication style while spending a pittance (reports say around 200 million won, advertising included) and avoiding the usual pitfalls of the genre (there is little explicit violence or any other such gimmicks in the film, as it's all implied to create an oppressive sense of “digital intimidation”). We're always aware of the thematic consciousness that is pervading the story (that social “phobia” of the title) because Hong manages to maintain a certain detachment from the characters, enough that they help form a cohesive veneer of the same social decadence you'll find online these days. It's eery how the invigorating air of individualism of an online nickname comes crashing once all those avatars are revealed to be ordinary faces with ordinary lives, subjugated by the system and the society their parents helped build around them. You could say substance over style given the strength of the message, but Hong even shows a little style which while not unique is definitely assertive.

It helps that he's been dealt a decent cast to play with: Lee Joo-Seung has been giving consistently solid performances for the last two years, although he still needs that defining moment that can catapult him beyond “promising youngster” status. He is the highlight here, finding his own voice while at the same time never forgetting that Hong is going for detachment over maudlin drama queen antics. Also respectable is Byeon Yo-Han, who lucked out in 미생 (Misaeng) after three-four years of passable indie work. He underacts on more than one occasion here, but given the director's style it actually ends up helping him more than if he overly punctuated his acting. One-dimensional characterization aside, Ryu Joon-Yeol is frighteningly hyper as BJ Yangge, perhaps the more intimidating case for digital addiction prevention of the whole film.

I know that the idea of making a good film with little money has become a little bit of a gimmick in itself for indie filmmakers – since it's their only marketing ploy at this point, given how out of whack the distribution system has become. But even if it only registers as a steppingstone for bigger and not necessarily better things in the realm of “big films” for Hong, this is a fine work with a strong message and pretty good acting, something that isn't exactly common in today's Chungmuro.

ACTING GRADES

71 이주승 (Lee Ju-Seung)
67 변요한 (Byeon Yo-Han)
66 류준열 (Ryu Joon-Yeol)
64 하윤경 (Ha Yoon-Gyeong)
60 박근록 (Park Geun-Rok)

69

~ Last Update: 2015/04/13