Director: KIM Jeong Keun
Production Year: Korea 2015
South Korea’s world-class shipuilding industry has always been a buttress to the country’s booming economy. It is thus no surprise that Hanjin Shipyard was once a workplace charged with high energies, honor and community spirit. But today, it is a vessel of desolation and divisions. Labor relations are tense and unstable, some employees have committed suicide, and there is no end in sight for the ongoing strike. Funded by the 2011 ‘Bus of Hope’ project in support of the labor struggle, ‘The Island of Shadows’ explores the 30-year old darkness blanketing the shipyard, bringing to light the real struggles of individual goals and dreams against the power giants of the capitalist world.
The shipbuilding industry was the dominant power for Korean economic development in the 1980s and 90s. Today, South Korea is home to the top shipbuilding industry in the world. Director Kim Jeong Keun explores the current conditions of workers at Hanjin Heavy Industries and their history of labour union organization as a way of seeing the human lives that are ignored like a shadow behind the superficial glitter of shipbuilding. This film also examines the decline of the Hanjin labour union, which was once quite militant and radical, to it’s current status within the contemporary Korean labour movement. Still, workers who have not given up the string of hope and solidarity remain. This is Kim Jeong Keun’s second feature documentary, following Get on the Bus (2012), the grand prize winner at the Seoul Independent Film Festival.