Review: Self-Referential Traverse

Weirdness from South Korea? Indeed!


Alright. While some indie filmmakers are struggling to film absolutely nothing of importance except their own artistic misadventure—got Kim Kyung-mook from Stateless Things fame in mind—it’s quite reassuring to see that some other indies are making original, and experimental works. Not to wake up a sleeping and bored audience, but to point out what’s wrong with society.

Credited as the only director here, Kim Sun is working without his brother—remember Anti-gas Skin?—using small means to follow the nightmarish day of Podori, the cute police mascot in South Korea.


Basically, Self Referential Traverse shows animated puppets—sometimes, it’s stop-motion, but most of the time, it’s manual, which gives a certain charm as you can see cables in screen, and also reinforces the crazy aspect of the film.

And, it’s not just a visual trip, the score is made of bits of sounds & musics, creating an atmospheric-psychedelic feeling while giving life and to the animated objects. For instance, Podori sounds like a (fake?) innocent children, and the ninja rats—when not busy fucking—are singing the song of the fallen martyrs.

“Fuck the police, coming straight from the underground…”


That’s completely crazy, and incredibly linked to the political situation in South Korea, which is quickly introduced at the beginning of the film through the parody of a cheesy drama—a vindictive daughter questioning her Father’s beliefs, this opening includes fake & forced laughters, plus overacting actors!

As for the rest of the film with Podori, it functions like a political satire, using metaphors, symbolism, and conceptual-images-ideas to convey the criticism against the Korean government & the police.

Making references to mass manipulations, to poorly handled political & social matters, to police brutality, to tragic events left unsolved—it mentions the yongsan eviction, which is the main subject of documentary film Two Doors. Podori is often seen beating up the slightest opposition encountered – let it be with his stick, a vacuum cleaner or a water cannon: nobody fucks with Podori, except…?


In other words, Self Referential Traverse often lacks clarity, it is weird, confusing, unreal… It’s an experimental work with a neat yet strange score, containing grotesque ideas–starting with the Podori doll—that can also become disturbing—the final sequence, where fiction meets reality… —Interesting.

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AKA Self Referential Traverse: Zeitgeist and Engagement, Jagadangchak: shidaejeongshin kwa hyeonshilchamyeo, 자가당착: 시대정신과 현실참여

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