《The Funeral of the Unknown》 is a found-footage film about a tragic event for an individual, a group, and even a nation. The film opens with a passage of mournful music played by a German orchestra, preparing us for our own funeral-mourning attitude. A quote from Paul Auster’s 《Brooklyn Follies》.
“Grieve! Grieve for the ten who have vanished.
Grieve for the ten whose lives are no more, who begin their journey into the vast unknown.
Grieve endlessly for the dead. Grieve for the men and women who were good.
Grieve for the men and women who were bad.
Grieve for the old whose bodies failed them.
Grieve for the young who died before their time.
Grieve for a world that allows death to take us from the world. Grieve!”
is utilized as a mantra that runs through the film and is repeated every 58 seconds throughout the runtime. The movie then begins to tell the story of several deaths.
〈The First Funeral〉
I hear the eulogy of a person who sat in the same pew as me. The death of a man who once occupied the same seat as me, with infinite possibilities.
〈How I died〉
The second story is set in the ‘Gangnam Station Murder Case’. At Gangnam Station, where many people meet, ‘I’ eats with a friend at a nearby restaurant, goes to the restroom for a while, and is murdered. This death triggers a huge mourning event and a feminist reboot as people realize that they could have been a victim of such a murder at any time.
〈The girl in the video〉
Illegal filming and sharing of private life in an accommodation, sharing and spreading the video on webhards, and the victim’s later request to have it removed by a specialized company, but the company in charge of the removal was the same body as the webhard company, the ‘webhard cartel case’,
〈What I did in front of the tragedy〉
The Sewol ferry disaster, in which an old Japanese ship was purchased and operated after lobbying with many governments to obtain permission to use it, and many students on a school trip to Jeju Island died in an accident, and the whole process of sinking, death, mourning, and corruption was broadcast live on TV.
The movie ends with an unfulfilled wish, a dream of a boat saving everyone on board.
I began this work by questioning how it is possible to empathize and feel such great anger or sadness over the death of someone you don’t know personally.
I think it’s probably due to collective memory, the same cultural experiences that a group of people have in common. In the video, in order of death, I had the first death – a car accident but likely a suicide – I used her sister’s atelier and walked the same hallways. Second death – I used the same subway station and would have used the same restroom that the dead man used. Third death – I would have walked into the motel and spent time with my loved one, and fourth death – I would have traveled somewhere on a big ship.
For me, documenting these events in a visual language shared by my generation was very necessary. In particular, I utilized literature, events, cartoons, and movies from the East and West as visual languages. Since I am a member of this society, I want anyone who has had the same cultural experience to see my work and mourn with me.