“Free Cheol Sui‘ tells the story of a wrongfully convicted man who is finally proven in court after spending nearly a decade in prison.
But it’s not an uplifting movie. While the documentary celebrates the exoneration of its subject, Californian Korean immigrant Cheol-su Lee, the documentary, directed by Julie Ha and Eugene Yi, explores how the consequences of failing justice will affect him for the rest of his life. I’m interested in how it spread. We also wonder if the expectations of those who helped him and his famous moments weighed on him.Just because Lee was innocent doesn’t mean he was perfect. .
Born in 1952 during the Korean War, Lee was eventually taken to San Francisco by his mother. Having lived somewhat aimlessly, he was convicted of a 1973 Chinatown murder, according to the film’s account. His relentless defense by KW Lee, an investigative reporter for The Sacramento Union, and the Coalition of Activists drew attention to the serious flaws in the case. The process took years, and another death penalty case against Cheol-su Lee, murder in the prison yard, was a complicated matter.
“Free Cheol Sui” takes its cues from Lee’s own words, read as narration by Sebastian Yun, and the recollections of his supporters. Archival material involving KW Lee is particularly poignant, saying he saw a “very thin line” between himself and the man he was covering. Somewhat insipid, and sadly, as criminal justice documentaries go, they’re well known for straying from Lee’s unique and grim perspective. His prison life and struggle with depression.In a passage that was used as a narration, he described death row prisoners as “those convicted Kill yourself before you’re executed.”
Free Cheol Sui
Unrated. English, Korean, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 23 minutes. at the theater.