In the Absence is a 2019 South Korean–American[1][2] short documentary film about the 2014 sinking of the MV Sewol passenger ferry in South Korea, in which three hundred people – mostly school children – lost their lives.[3]


The film was produced by Gary Byung-Seok Kam and directed by Yi Seung-Jun, with Seung-Jun beginning the process of interviewing the victims families on camera in 2017.[4] The documentary is seen as separated from other documentaries about the disaster, due to the fact that it highlights the disaster and not just the events leading up to the event and/or those responsible for the tragedy.[5]


The documentary utilizes audio from first responders and government officials, aerial video from choppers, and cell phone video and multi-media messages from the victims of the ferry sinking to showcase the disaster in real time.[4] The entire documentary is roughly 29-minutes long, and highlights how the disaster could have been avoided and the aftermath of the disaster such as the Candlelight Protests and the impeachment of then President Park Geun-hye.[6]


The documentary was awarded the 2018 grand jury prize for short competition in DOC NYC, a documentary film festival in the United States.[4]

In the Absence was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 92nd Academy Awards.[7][8][9][10] Before this nomination (and Parasite’s nominations), no South Korean film had ever been nominated for an Oscar.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "In the Absence [programme note]". IDFA. 2018. Retrieved 2020-02-09.
  2. ^ "The Lost: Meet the Press Film Festival with AFI". NBC News. 2019-09-06. Retrieved 2020-02-09.
  3. ^ Film Pittsburgh
  4. ^ a b c Carey, Matthew; Carey, Matthew (2020-01-31). "Oscar-Nominated 'In The Absence' Takes Haunting Look At Sewol Ferry Disaster". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  5. ^ Jang-wong, Lim (February 10, 2020). "'In the Absence' raises international awareness of Sewol ferry disaster". The Korea Herald. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  6. ^ Rich, Katey. "It's Not Just Parasite: Watch the Other South Korean Film Poised to Make Oscar History". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  7. ^ Short of the Week
  8. ^ Sewol Ferry Tragedy Documentary "In the Absence" Receives Oscar Nomination|Soompi
  9. ^ S. Korean Documentary 'In the Absence' on Sewol Sinking Nominated for Oscar|KBS World Radio
  10. ^ Oscar-nominated short films showing in Connecticut theaters - Hartford Courant
  11. ^ Violet Kim (2020-02-04). "The Filmmakers Behind In the Absence on What It Can Teach Americans". Slate. Retrieved 2020-02-09.

External linksEdit