Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

Camel(s) 2001


Directed by Park Kiyong

Korea In Korean with English subtitles
91 minutes B&W

Director, Screenplay


Ko Choong-gil


Choi Chan-min


Park Ki-yong
Kim Sung-soo


Park Jin-suk


Lee Dae-yeon (Man)
Park Myung-sin (Woman)


Rotterdam, Berlin 2002


"The dromedaries [are] the titular lovers of South Korean director Park Ki-yong’s dyspeptic new DV feature – a gulp of acid longing set in an emotionally arid (though relentlessly rain-sodden) seaport village, untold miles from Seoul… Hearts torn apart by hopelessness, migraines as a kind of sustainable workplace madness, the occasional sortie to an anonymous love hotel by lovers unable to recall one another’s names. Shot in lo-res black-and-white from a variety of intimate backseat vantages and fly-on-the-beer-glass perspectives. Park’s second feature is at once a far cry from his first – Motel Cactus – and its bitter answer song. Both films exhibit a profound sense of doubt over the sustainability (or even temporary value) of sexual fulfilment, even as they recognize that the possibility of finding just such an oasis of fleeting pleasure up ahead often seems to be the only thing driving us on. A monument to awkward silences and intimate lonelinesses, Camel(s) is a major accomplishment… it will haunt you hours later – a creeping nightmare about an ocean of longing on a planet of sand." — Chuck Stephens, Film Comment 

I started shooting with only a brief outline; backgrounds of the characters, how they meet, how they go for a weekend trip, and what they’ll do during the night at the seaside town. The end was not fixed. First we chose a location, and had some discussion of what the characters would do, say and feel at the place, and the rest was decided by the actors. The crew, including myself, would just wait and see. I chose this way because I thought that improvising like jazz players do was the key factor of this small digital film. I didn’t want to fix anything from the beginning, and I asked the actors not to act but to be the characters. I tried to avoid the conventional filmmaking method as much as possible… 

Why Camel(s)? Camels are said to be the only mammals that can survive in harsh desert conditions, and I think only humans can survive the complicated modern day life. The image of camels strolling absent-mindedly through the endless desert was the key image I thought of while making this film. [And the] …(s)? The man and the woman are together but not absolutely together. They know that they can be together for only a short time, and will be alone again afterwards. — Park Ki-yong