Stateless Things (2011)

2011 | DCP | 120min | 1.85:1 | Fiction

Claustrophobic drama about two stateless boys struggling with life. Although they couldn’t be more different, they are linked by their loneliness and desperation. A meeting proves inevitable. Poetic film about homosexuality and illegal migrants in South Korea – major themes in Kim’s oeuvre.


Stateless Things follows two men who live on the fringe of society in South Korea. Joon is a North Korean defector who works at a gas station. His co-worker at the gas station is Soon-Hee, an ethnic Korean who migrated to the country from China. When the boss at the gas station sexually harasses Soon-Hee, Joon finds himself sticking up from the woman. Joon is soon relieved from his job, but returns to collect his unpaid wages. A fight erupts that leads Joon and Soon-Hee escaping from their workplace together.

Hyun is a good-looking young man who finds himself living in an expensive high-rise apartment. He lives there as the lover of a wealthy, older businessman Hyun receives a phone call from a woman looking for her husband.

Slowly but surely, the stories of Jun and Hyeon, two lost souls, come together in the poetic and stylish Stateless Things. The positioning of the opening titles is enough to show Kim’s idiosyncrasy: they only appear on screen after 90 min.