The Journals of Musan Image
Metascore
56

Mixed or average reviews - based on 6 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: Jeon Seung-chul, a North Korean defector, leaves a resettlement in South Korea and takes up residence in a dilapidated home on the outskirts of Seoul. He finds employment putting up advertisement posters, but yearns for human contact. Instead, he befriends a stray dog.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 6
  2. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    Aug 15, 2011
    80
    Jeon is played to perfection by the director himself. The spare script effectively funnels audience attention into him, who is never less than engaging.
  2. Reviewed by: Kenji Fujishima
    Aug 15, 2011
    75
    If The Journals of Musan indicates anything, it's that people, for the most part, either can't or simply aren't willing to comprehend the circumstances behind others' actions.
  3. Reviewed by: Jay Weissberg
    Aug 15, 2011
    70
    Though it cries out for trimming, "Musan" is a welcome, substantive marker on the current cinema landscape.
  4. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Aug 16, 2011
    60
    An attempt to detail the plight of North Koreans in their new homeland, The Journals of Musan doesn't soft-pedal the hardship; Park, however, apparently felt obligated to stack the deck against the film's passive protagonist to a ridiculous degree.
  5. Reviewed by: Benjamin Mercer
    Aug 16, 2011
    50
    Group scenes, meanwhile, often suffer from a peculiar handheld drift, as if in troubling over which insult to add to which injury, the filmmakers neglected to attend to rudimentary blocking.
  6. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    Aug 18, 2011
    50
    Mr. Park's screenplay, pedestrian direction and stolid performance don't set us up to care.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Aug 27, 2011
    9
    Saw this for free at MOMA last Friday, and it's the best Korean drama I've seen in awhile! Also glad to finally see a worthwhile emerging Korean director get some recognition after disappointments by leading veterans in the past few years. At heart, the film dealt with some serious contemporary cultural issues regarding Korea's backhanded discrimination of its own in the treatment of North Korean refugees living in Seoul, as well as the overzealous yet superficial adoption of Christianity and the consequences and experience of living in a super-collectivist cult-ure. Some of the tricks used to engage western audiences and evoke empathy (the dog, religious hymns in the singing room, for example) were cheap but effective; likewise, amateur-ish lens when filming chase scenes and perspective shots. Overall, the level of detail and character sketches/development made for great drama. Among the best and most subtle are scenes at the close of the film, wherein the "love interest" is reduced to just another blind follower, implicitly unworthy of the tragic hero's redemption. Expand