Universe Department Store
Our memory is not to be trusted; it is interwoven with wishful thinking, dreams, romanticisations or repressions, superimposed or replaced by accidentally glimpsed images. If you want to make sure of your history, you might seek out the places of your childhood or youth to embark on a journey into the past. But what if those places are long gone, themselves as fleeting as the memories of them?
Director Won Taewoong was born in 1981, at a time when the city of Seoul, devastated in the civil war, was rapidly developing. Under the South Korean military dictatorship rice paddies turned into business and residential areas, multi-storey department stores with long escalators and attractions for children were built. In front of the Universe Department Store in Cheonho-dong on the eastern outskirts of the city, a space shuttle was erected that made the children’s imaginations run wild. But while modernisation was picking up speed, most of these malls closed down again after a few years. “Universe Department Store” is an attempted reconstruction. In conversations with peers whose memories often show enormous discrepancies and in hypnosis sessions, the director gets to the bottom of what memory is and discovers a dazzling universe between fact and fantasy.