Even in a documentary, one can see a sense of style that director Hong Hyung-sook incorporates in her films. And she shows some of those stylistic flairs in her new movie Junha’s Planet. She returns to certain spaces to exhibit contrasts. The space in question is a school in Seongmisan, a new district in southern Soeul. One of its students is the titular Kim Junha, a boy within the autism spectrum and has violent tendencies. Hong shows us certain spaces with or without his presence.
Some of the classrooms are just for him, when teachers set him aside to verbally discipline him for one of his outbursts. During the next scene, we see an indoor space for fifth graders like Junha, playing without him. These spaces and the way Hong presents them are indicative of the divide between him and the rest of the student body. But the teachers want Junha as part of their class, despite of everything.
Hong’s aesthetic decisions don’t always work. For instance, she uses long takes to capture some of the conversations among Junha and the teachers. And the film sometimes uses those long takes to try to penetrate his mind. That perspective, of course, comes with the idea that she’s taking the teachers’ side in these exchanges who, as saintly as they behave, still see Junha as a mystery.
But as ‘mysterious’ as Junha might be, the film still shows Junha as part of a world, and one can interpret that world as progressive or otherwise. Audiences can see these teachers trying to use one system after another to teach him to stop hitting other people. Neuro typical people still make up the world’s majority. And whether or not they’re good at including neuro atypical minorities, this shows that they’re at least trying.
For more information on Junha’s Planet go to https://workmanarts.com/rwm-events/junha-planet/.
- Release Date: 10/18/2019