Features and Columns · Movies

In Praise of ‘Silenced’: The Film that Shook South Korean Cinema

‘Silenced’ is a very difficult film to watch. But with subject matter this pressing, it’s an important film to have on your radar.
Silenced Movie
CJ Entertainment
By  · Published on November 19th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about the cultural importance of the 2011 South Korean film Silenced.


Based on a real scandal that took place at the Gwangju Inhwa School for the hearing impaired in the early 2000s, Silenced (2011) is a very tough-to-watch but necessary film. Directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, the film follows Kang In-ho (Gong Yoo), a new teacher at Gwangju Inhwa who discovers that faculty members are repeatedly abusing their deaf students.

The film’s subject matter is extremely heavy, depicting both the crimes and the court proceedings that followed. Upon its release, the film sparked public outrage which eventually resulted in a reopening of the investigations into the incidents. There was enough pressure from audience members to push legislative reform all the way to the National Assembly of South Korea, where a revised bill (named after the film no less) was passed to abolish the statute of limitations for sex crimes against minors and disabled people.

Silenced only received a limited theatrical run in North America, and is largely unknown to Western audiences despite its undisputed cultural impact in its home country. The video essay below does an invaluable job introducing the film to those unaware of the Gwangju Inhwa School incident and explaining why the horrors it depicts are worth sitting with and contemplating. Rotten, systemic scandals are unfortunately commonplace. So regardless of Silenced‘s unnerving specificity, the film is a powerful reminder of our unfair bias towards authority figures and the danger of failing to act.

The video essay below discusses and shows dramatizations of child abuse. If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Watch “The Film That Changed South Korea”:


Who made this?

This video on the cultural importance of the 2011 South Korean film Silenced by Accented Cinema, a Canadian-based YouTube video essay series with a focus on foreign cinema. You can subscribe to Accented Cinema for bi-weekly uploads here. You can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).