Kim Ki-Young's Goryeojang is an incendiary piece of filmmaking rooted in forensic observation that details the intertwined relationship between brutalism and survivalism foolishly constructed by man. For Kim Ki-Young humanity and its animalistic nature is simply overlooked, and his approach here shows little proclivity towards sentimentality but what I believe Goryeojang ultimately posits is that whether it be through social or divine hierarchal structures, man's abstract allegiances drive them inevitable towards barbarism due to their unwillingness to accept the anarchy intrinsic to living. Kim has such an acute understanding of humankind's internal impulses, instincts, and desires and how easily they can lead to violence. Humans are emotional creatures not confined by logic, and perhaps one could say Kim's approach here doesn't slant towards sentiment but rather a sociological investigation. Detailing the harsh conditions in an assured approach that never shies away from capturing the barbarism intrinsic to the human experience, Kim's film also suggests the paramount importance of internal fortitude in order to reject these egotistical impulses and the deceptions of safety promised by authority. In the end, he seems to suggest approaching commonality through a framework rooted in altruism and empathy instead of competition and hierarchy. I could see some characterizing Kim Ki-Young's approach here as nihilist but in its denouement it rejects this ideal. A near epistemic approach elucidates the cruel realities of survival yet in the end I believe Goryeojang signals the need to reject idols or any form of authority that can lead to conflict, with our main protagonist destroying the vestiges of authority in an effort to forge a path in which mutualism rises everyone above the dirt. Make no mistake, Goryejong is a shockingly brutalist work in many regards. There are sequences in this film that left me shocked due to the savagery and depravity on display, and yet the film delivers an emotional wallop all the same, doing so far more from a naturalist perspective than one rooted in expressionism or melodramatics. Honestly, I don't feel completely adequate to write about this film, having only seen 3 of Kim's films to date. These are just my initial impressions and observations from a first-time viewing, but this is a major work from Kim Ki-Young that may just be a complete masterpiece.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.