The Isle

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The Isle is a South Korean movie directed by Kim Ki-duk and released in 2000. It was Kim's breakthrough movie, his previous works having remained relatively confidential.

The setting of the story is a remote lake where people rent small floating bungalows. The caretaker, Hee-jin, is a mute woman who ferries the customers around, provides them with supplies, and engages in occasional prostitution. One day, a man shows up, wanted by the police for killing his wife. Distraught and desperate, he tries to commit suicide, but Hee-jin rescues him. Intrigued by his pain, she begins a wordless but intense relationship with him, and the two lovers gradually shut themselves out from the outside world.

Tropes used in The Isle include:
  • Cute Mute: Hee-jin never speaks, although it's hinted that she does so by choice. And she's plenty weird.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Hee-jin casually disposes of a prostitute who was beginning to compete with her for the man's attention.
  • Hazardous Water: If you get on Hee-jin's wrong side, better stay clear of the water.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Played straight but in a strangely twisted way. Early in the relationship, Hee-jin turns down a clumsy attempt by the man to have sex with her. But she still thinks his needs have to be satisfied, so she sends him a prostitute.
  • Interrupted Suicide
  • Language of Love: Although Hee-jin never speaks, it doesn't get in the way of psychological or physical intimacy.
  • Squick: You'll never look at fish hooks the same way again. Ever.