Model Village

Village modele

Modelová vesnice

  • Hayoun Kwon
  • France
  • 2014, 10 min
Photography: Simon Gesrel
Producer, Co-producer: Olivier Chantriaux (FILMO)
Color: Colour and B&W
Language: Korean, English

This studio experiment is a fictional excursion to Kijong-Dong, the city of spirits in the North Korean demilitarized zone, to which the director was refused entry. The town, built in 1950, is a Potemkin village, an empty film set. Here it is also depicted using white models with transparent models of empty houses.

It gleams in the dark like the white tip of an iceberg in the dark mass of the ocean: a model composed of the perfect lines of the contours of the hills rising above the city. Birds sing, the loudspeakers broadcast voices. Not a sign of life anywhere.


A journey by proxy to a North Korean propaganda village: the artifice of the setting echoes the contrivance of the political masquerade. The title’s “model village”, Kijong-dong, is to be understood as in the term “model ghetto” associated with Theresienstadt. It exists for real in the DMZ (the Korean demilitarised zone), a 250-km stretch of land separating North and South Korea. But since the recent North-Korean crisis, filming there has become even more difficult. The filmmaker seems to relish this constraint, as the sound-editing in the first part of the film manages in a few snippets to stand in the stead of an actual visit to this luxury showcase built in the 1950s. Oriented so as to be seen from South Korea, the buildings with painted-on doors and windows were thus as hollow as film sets. It was this vacuity, an echo of the State’s deceit, that inspired Hayoun Kwon to build her mock-up, or “model” in the other sense of the word. As the real village is a sinister political fiction, only the most artificial dispositif is capable of piercing the truth. The transparency of the miniature and the naturalistic outdoor sounds heard off-screen build up another scene, neither historical nor fictional — more a ghostly abstraction: the camera’s movements, filming the filming, accentuate the shadows of the houses, another paradox in a place where shadow has more substance than built structures. (Charlotte Garson)

Photo Gallery

Olivier Chantriaux
116, Avenue de Villiers
Paris / 75017 / France
+33 635185114

Festival edition: 2014
Sections: Short Joy
Premiere Type: Czech Premiere
Exhibition format: DCP
Subtitle languages: English
25.10.2014 20:30


Visitor accreditations for the 22nd Ji.hlava IDFF are now open