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In Search of a Forgotten Land: The Republic of Užupis by Haïlji


When The Repulic of Užupis by Haïlji opens, Hal, a Korean traveling to Lithuania, is explaining the purpose of his trip to an immigration officer. He has come to bury his father’s ashes in his homeland—The Republic of Užupis, an independent state not far from Vilnius. However, whenever he states his destination, it draws blank faces and laughter from immigration control, his taxi driver, and some friendly Lithuanians he meets in a hotel bar. The place he speaks of does not exist But Hal persists. In a number of proceeding scenes, Hal regains his confidence when he sees the Užupis flag or hears its national anthem or hears people speaking Užupis. Despite not being able to speak Užupis, he can clearly understand it, and hears it often around the city, including being spoken by the mayor in a funny scene where a Lithuanian falsely translates the mayor’s Užupis, which she cannot understand. Yet still, people deny the existence of this independent state.



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