A Petal

A Petal, ??, Ggotip, Kkonnip

Date: 1996
Parts: 2
Language: Korean
Subtitle: English

Synopsis: In October 1979, Park Chung-hee, who had ruled South Korea for 18 years, was killed by his intelligence chief (as portrayed in “”President’s Last Bang””), and many hoped real democracy would finally come to Korea. Instead, General Chun Doo-hwan gradually took over the military and KCIA, and then, after major protests in Seoul, extended martial law, closed the universities and the national assembly, and arrested politicians. The next day, on 18 May, 1980, students in Kwangju protested these events in front of their closed universities and marched downtown. Armed paratroopers sent to put down the protests attacked anyone in their path, and over the next three days, clashes between soldiers and citizens grew larger and more violent, reaching a climax when, after taxi drivers used their cars to hem the troops in near the provicial hall, the troops opened fire on the crowds, who then armed themselves and forced the army to retreat to the edge of the city. There the military would continue to fire on cars and buses over the next 6 days, killing many, many more people. At massive gatherings in the center of town, citizens called for the government to apologize and for democracy to be restored, but in the early hours of 27th May, the tanks moved in and a final stand by the few citizen soldiers who remained at the provincial hall was quickly crushed. Many would be arrested and tortured for their involvement in the uprising, and from time to time bodies have been discovered which were secretly buried by the military. Jang Sun-woo’s A Petal – the first feature film to deal with the uprising – opens with documentary footage of the troops mopping up on 27th May, which includes dragging away the dead, arresting suspected protesters, and fumigating the streets. A Petal tells the story of a girl who lost her mother (and her mind) during the uprising and who wanders the countryside looking for her brother, who she believes to be still alive. In her wanderings she is taken advantage of by some men, and taken care of by others. She suppresses her memories of what happened that day when troops opened fire on protesters, but little by little it comes back to her. Meanwhile, her dead brother’s friends are trying to find her (keep your eyes peeled for a young looking Seol Kyung-gu).

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