Mullae dong where the video was had been taken textile industry district during the Japanese colonial period in 1910-45 and is known to be named after Mulle(‘spinning wheel’ in Korean) of the textile factory area. While it thrived under the military regime in the 1970s-80s, Mullae dong is barely surviving as the last steel industry district in Seoul by now. Since the 1990s when the domestic industry was restructured and the neighborhood was developed into high-rise apartment, many factories have left Seoul due to the high rent and the buildings have been emptied. And yet, the abandoned space has been gradually occupied by artists so that Mullae dong is becoming a space of laborers and artists where approximately 50 of ateliers and 300 of ironworks are juxtaposed with each other. Mullae dong has also a special meaning in the recent history of South Korea. Near the Mullae steel industry district, there is a Mullae Public Garden and the site had been originally the 6th military district command where former president Park Chung-hee plotted a military coup to overthrow the government. Actually there you can see the bunker where Park made the plan for political upheaval and a monumental bust of Park, which was erected after he was assassinated to honor him and his successful coup on May 16, 1961. But for me, the sculpture also seems to commemorate Park’s foundational contribution to the steel industry in South Korea—including the Mullae steel industry district. While it apparently looks like a wonderful space where laborers and artists coexist together, Mullae dong has been deeply marked by the military regime. It was a cradle of the military culture that Koreans are still struggling against and now it is a tomb that preserves the trauma from the past.
The 3-channel video installation Mulle is divided into three videos Interview, Landscape, and Mulle, each of which is an individual symbol and works as a part of the organic triptych-style mocumentary to the audience. First, Interview asks general questions about Mullae dong to interviewees with various sociopolitical stances, so as to spontaneously disclose diverse historical perspectives on the military regime originated from Mullae dong. Second, Landscape shows the views of Mullae dong crowded with modern and vernacular architecture as well as the images about sublimity and homogeneity of art and labor. And third, Mulle stages two actors playing an episode based on my own experience about Park’s specter and his sculpture in Mullae dong.