Private Project

Modo Island

At the height of COVID-19, the erotic sculpture park on Modo Island is nearly empty, like the nearby Incheon Airport, which is South Korea’s largest. The film juxtaposes images of the human body with the stone, both limited by their physical realities as literal and figurative islands, trapped within a perpetual longing for flight.

  • Haeryun Kang
    Ahyeon's Rooftop, Child of Climate Change, Kyunghee's Chickens, Halmeoni's Pencil, Jinwon's Naitae
  • Matthew Koshmrl
    Land of My Father, Pig Tale, The Poachers
  • Haeryun Kang
    Ahyeon's Rooftop, Child of Climate Change, Kyunghee's Chickens, Halmeoni's Pencil, Jinwon's Naitae
  • Haeryun Kang
    Ahyeon's Rooftop, Child of Climate Change, Kyunghee's Chickens, Halmeoni's Pencil, Jinwon's Naitae
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Art, Poetry, Eroticism, Sculpture
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes 38 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 6, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Korea, Republic of
  • Country of Filming:
    Korea, Republic of
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, HD, 24fps
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Vox Popular Media Arts Festival
    Thunder Bay
    September 10, 2022
    North American premiere
  • Korean American Film Festival New York
    New York
    United States
    November 17, 2022
    U.S premiere
  • Busan New Wave Short Film Festival
    Korea, Republic of
    August 31, 2022
    World premiere
    Best experimental award
Director Biography - Haeryun Kang

Haeryun Kang is a filmmaker and journalist based in Seoul, South Korea and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her first film, Ahyeon’s Rooftop, premiered at the Seoul International ALT Cinema and Media Festival in 2020. Before moving to the American Midwest, she experimented with videography in Korean media startups, including as the creative director of InterV, a short documentary brand focusing on community engagement, and the managing editor of Korea Exposé, a journalism startup highlighting underrepresented Korean stories in English. As a journalist, her work has appeared on NPR, Washington Post, Time and the cover of Rolling Stone. Haeryun is interested in documentary films that explore memory, changing subjectivity in the era of climate change, and the limitations of the body.

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Director Statement

My work as a filmmaker is an extension and departure from my career as a journalist, where I’ve reported for years on different Korean issues, for primarily U.S media outlets. As a filmmaker, traversing between both countries, I’m freer to explore the tricky grounds of objectivity and subjectivity, questioning my own questions and experimenting with the language of sensory storytelling in both Korean and English.

Empathy plays a conscious part in both my reporting and filmmaking; highlighting underrepresented characters and observing the particular rhythm of my subjects. A 70-year-old woman goes to school for the first time, stammering while reading a letter to her granddaughter. A young scientist studies the expansiveness of the time of trees, while confined to the tables of her Excel spreadsheet. A chicken, torn to tatters by his peers, moves around in the cage while his owner sings a sad tune about the separation of lovers.

As a director, cinematographer and editor, I am fascinated by the minutiae of movements, as well as the various limitations — both figurative and physical — imposed on our minds and bodies that shatter the illusion of freedom. In South Korea, a largely conservative and male-dominated society, I have focused on exploring the various lives of resilient women. In Milwaukee, I am currently developing a film that compares the elusiveness of bodily freedom in Korea and the U.S, encountering the different repressive structures that inevitably imbue slogans like “my body, my choice” with tragedy and irrepressible hope.

In Modo Island, the main characters are made with stone. They are trapped within themselves, in a world that is also trapped within an ocean. The confinement of the island world is paralleled and contrasted by the nearby presence of South Korea’s largest airport, normally a symbol of escape and flight, that is also suffering isolation due to the pandemic. I visited the island wearing a mask, observing the seagulls and the occasional planes in the sky, probably half-empty. The sculptures seemed so beautiful; despite their irrevocable confinement, their forms still showed a perpetual longing toward the openness of the sea.