top of page



average rating is 4 out of 5


Chris Olson


Posted on:

Oct 1, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Justin Kim WooSŏk
Written by:
Justin Kim WooSŏk
Jongman Kim, Taehee Kim

Filmmaker Justin Kim WooSŏk’s heartfelt and understated short film Sarajin explores a small story in a much bigger picture, one about the impact of climate change.

Jongman Kim plays an immigrant fisherman living in Alaska. Things are tight, as the snow crabs that his livelihood depends on have disappeared, forcing his captain to keep the boat anchored. With pressure at home from his partner (Ki Jin Kim) to provide for their family, our protagonist faces a tough decision: whether to wait it out or to move on.

Sarajin is based on real-life closures of fisheries and how this impacts huge communities of people who have lived and fished in one place for generations. Whilst the film never engages in heightened melodrama, keeping a low poignancy throughout, it is still a very striking story about how the changing oceans (caused by human actions) can drastically impact the lives of common people.

Beautifully shot and low-key with its dialogue, Sarajin is the strongest when contemplative. A simple shot of a rusted boat in the harbour, or a lingering shot through the truck window as our fisherman drives him despondent. It’s a film that encourages the feeling of tranquillity in order for you to really consider what’s being depicted here. The performances support this through dispirited exchanges, such as the couple exploring their hopeless situation, or the crew on the boat longing to get the green light to go back out to sea. The glum tone would be altogether too much if it weren’t for the engaging filmmaking and strong acting.

The film’s title means “disappearing” in Korean and the layered meaning here is as equally as devastating as the plot. Often, considerations of climate change focus largely on the natural impact and how we might see drastic changes to weather, sea levels and such. What we aren’t usually presented with are the aspects of our global communities that will be lost forever.

With his short film Sarajin, Justin Kim WooSŏk has opened a door for his audience that it may be impossible to shut if you have engaged with his piece enough. There are already aspects of our lives that will be lost to the history books, with lots more likely on the horizon. Being forced to move on from our homes is one of the most unnatural experiences in the world and yet this could be the experience for many if our neglect of the ocean and other essential parts of nature continues.

About the Film Critic
Chris Olson
Chris Olson
Short Film, World Cinema
bottom of page