Gosanja, Daedongyeojido – The Map Against the World
The film The Map Against the World (2016) directed by Kang Woo-suk tells the story of Kim Jeong-ho, also known by his pen name Gosanja, (Cha Seun-won) and his journey to create Daedongyeojido, the most accurate depiction of the Korean Peninsula produced during the time period.
The film begins with Jeong-ho’s father embarking on a mission to find and apprehend the rebel leader who is attempting to overthrow the Joseon monarchy. The rebels are nowhere to be discovered; they are concealed among mountain ranges. Jeong-ho’s father and his companions are forced to rely on an extremely faulty map. The errors of the mountain ranges and the inconsistencies of the terrain compel them to make erroneous decisions, which ultimately leads to their demise. After witnessing his father’s untimely death, young Jeong-ho vows to create an accurate map of Korea for all people so that they would never have to go through what his father did.
Jeong-ho traverses the entire nation on foot, doing whatever is necessary to obtain precise geographical measurements. With the assistance of his friend Ba-woo, his observations are transcribed onto a wooden plate for ease of reproduction and storage.
Throughout his journey in cartography, Jeong-ho faces a myriad of challenges. He becomes entangled in political power struggles, particularly those between Heungseon Daewongun (Prince Gung, the regent of Joseon) and the influential faction of Andong Kim clan. In the film, Jeong-ho is attacked by Japanese pirates before being unfairly charged with espionage upon his return. His daughter, Soon-sil, and his wife were executed for their Catholic faith (Joseon persecuted Catholics in the 1800’s due to conflicts between the religion and Korean traditions). The film concludes with Jeong-ho and Ba-woo revealing the completed Daedongyeojido to the general public in fulfillment of his vows, despite the insurmountable difficulties he has endured.
As a history major, I couldn’t help but pick out the numerous inaccuracies in the film. For instance, there are controversies as to whether Jeong-ho actually surveyed the entire Korean Peninsula for the birth of Daedongyeojido. Nonetheless, the film imparts a valuable lesson: those who adhere to a strict set of values and promises are the ones who transform the world. The film also depicts numerous natural Korean landscapes. Without the use of computer graphics, the film encapsulates the splendor of nature at its peak. The excellent cinematography and acting by the well-selected casts made me thoroughly enjoy the film.
<저작권자 ⓒ 먼데이타임스 무단전재 및 재배포 금지>
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