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Namwoong Huh reviews the animation short Saturday's Apartment by Jeon Seungbae.

An Apartment house with 5 different family members strugging of noises between the floors.... Could ever there be a peace?

New Mansion Apartment has a variety of residents, including a goat living on the first floor, a giraffe making repairs on the second floor, a rabbit mother and child on the third floor, a koala writer on the fourth floor, and a bear going on a diet on the fifth floor. The lamb’s guitar music disturbs the giraffe who is trying to fix up his apartment, and the baby crying on the third floor irritates the koala writer living on the fourth floor. Everyone is on edge because of their neighbors, but they are all drawn to the rooftop by the smell of kebabs on the grill, and all the residents of the apartment are finally gathered together.

An apartment is a place where people live in separate spaces, but they are all interconnected by the problem of noise. Saturday’s Apartment explores a diverse range of people living in different circumstances and how they get to know one another and form equal relationships. The film ties together the characters on the screen with the common thread of the problems that they face in a residential complex. Wool yarn and fluffy cotton were the materials used by Director Jeon Seungbae to create the characters in this stop-motion animation.

Although the neighbors suffer due to noise issues, the softness of the puppet characters and the materials used to make them allow us to imagine an outcome that doesn’t involve the residents resorting to extreme measures. The tall exterior of the apartment reflects the tension shared by the residents. But when they struggle to rescue a child falling from the rooftop, a miracle takes place. As they band together, the apartment collapses under their weight, and the vertical relationship is transformed into a horizontal one, so that the neighbors become closer and more neighborly. The walls that they had built around themselves fall apart, and the apartment’s walls are painted over in white paint to signal a new beginning.

Watch Saturday's Apartment trailer:

Recently, everyone is getting exhausted because of noises between floors. Wouldn’t our house need a rest too? So, a holiday’s house is necessary - Jeon Seungbae

The first thing that the residents remove from their new apartment is its name “New Mansion.” A “mansion” stands in the foreground and hides the individuality of its occupant no matter who is living inside. That’s why the title of the film is Saturday’s Apartment instead of “Saturday’s New Mansion.” The residents on each floor are different species of animals, live very different lives, and also fall into diverse age groups—from a newborn child to an elderly neighbor, or a teenager to a grown-up in their 50s. The New Mansion, or rather Saturday’s Apartment, is a place that is brimming with diversity. If people erase the borders that separate them while respecting each other’s differences, then every day can be a Saturday of rest and celebration.

Stop-motion animation in Korea is a difficult endeavor and limited to short films. Jeon Seungbae, who directed Saturday’s Apartment, works together with his spouse, Kang Insook, who is the art director for their films. They have collaborated on stop-motion animations for 20 years. In a nation where 2D and CGI animation are far more popular, it is a pleasure to see a locally made stop-motion animated film. Jeon and Kang, as director and art director respectively, also made the picture book Kung Kung Apartment based on their short film, exploring a different medium with a unique charm of its own.

Contributed by: Namwoong Huh

Credits:
토요일다세대주택 / Saturday’s Apartment (2018/01, South Korea, 07:50) | puppets, colour, no dialogue
Director: 전승배 / Jeon Seungbae | Producer: Seungbae Jeon | Animation: Seungbae Jeon, Kang In-suk | Character: Kang In-suk | Editing: Seungbae Jeon | Sound designer: Kim Soo-hyun | Music: Jung Ye-ryun

About Jeon Seungbae:
He was born in 1979 in Chung Nam, South Korea. In 2009 he graduated from Chung - Ang University of Advance Imaging Science, Multimedia & Film. He is working at Toyville Animation Studio as an Animation Director.

The article benefited from the help of Korea Independent Animation Filmmakers Association (KIAFA).

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