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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Intention"

2018/05/12 | 598 views | Permalink

Jung Woo-sung narrates a reversal of format as "Intention" starts off on the moment the tragic accident was first reported (8:52 AM April 16th 2014) and works backwards. Eyewitness testimony from Sewol survivors indicates that around twenty minutes prior to that, Sewol made a lurch so sudden that crew members watched in shock as a refrigerator flew halfway across a room. Every minute lost was a nail in the coffin to the people who died that day. So why the delay in calling for help?

The farther back Kim Ji-young-V goes back in the chronology of the Sewol's voyage the weirder the data becomes. While eyewitness reports are scattered, on account of the fact that nearly everyone was asleep overnight, the Automatic Identification System (AIS) used to track Sewol's movements doesn't lie. Incidentally it took Kim Ji-young-V an insanely long time to collate all the AIS data about Sewol from various sources, because...

Well, it's all very technical. The reason why AIS data exists is so that the terrestrial sources can tell when ships are in trouble (because the AIS tells them when ships are way above or way below their pre-approved travel speed), and so that other ships can avoid running into them. A lot of it is produced, and the government didn't seem to have much interest in going through all that data itself.

The reasons for that become clear as we see more of the documentary's expert commentary. Apparently Sewol had been behaving erratically all night long, taking frequent sharp turns for no obvious reason. Eyewitness acounts of people who had traveled this ferry route multiple times confirm that they had noticed Sewol was unusually unsteady. So it comes as little surprise when the hypothesis emerges that Sewol was far closer to island reefs than it should have been.

But AIS data and eyewitness accounts alone aren't the sole source for this theory. Sewol was finally salavaged a year ago, and with it comes more footage about what happened. In addition to the predictably heartrending testimonies of the final moments of doomed passengers, there are also black boxes in the car in the cargo holds. These too, show sudden shocking violent movements that simply aren't consistent with the prevailing theory that Sewol capsized because of overloading.

Now, you might be wondering what difference it makes how exactly Sewol sunk. Well that's answered easily enough- because the conservative government in power at the time of Sewol sinking did everything it could to prevent independent inquiries into the cause of the ship's sinking. As Kim Ji-young-V documents here, the government would simply shove data out in front of the media without explaining where it came from.

Which begs the question- why would they go to the trouble? What were they trying to hide, and why? Alas, "Intention" doesn't get into those kinds of details. The title is more a statement that the inconsistencies between the official story and the independently verified data were no coincidence. Someone made a conscious decision to cover up what happened that day on the sea. As to who and why, well...that's a story for another documentary.

Review by William Schwartz


"Intention" is directed by Kim Ji-young-V and narrated by Jung Woo-sung.


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