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Special Collections

Korean Studies & Korean Diaspora Collection


Diana S. Lee & Grace Yoon-Kung Lee
1995, 29 min., BW, US/South Korea
A gritty look at the camp towns surrounding U.S. military bases in South Korea. This documentary follows Yon Ja Kim, a charismatic 50-year-old former sex worker through American Town, a government subsidized entertainment district for U.S. airforce personnel. Now a missionary devoted to aiding sex workers and running a daycare center for fatherless children, Ms. Kim takes the audience on a journey into her own past.
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Kim Jin Yoel
Producer: PURN Productions
2005, 99 min., Color, South Korea
A fascinating documentary about one of the little known legacies of the Korean War (1950-53), FORGOTTEN WARRIORS tells the stories of women guerilla fighters for North Korea who were captured, held for many years in South Korean jails - then released. Remaking their lives, assessing their past - and still socialist ot the core, this film profiles the characters and lives of these amazing women.
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Jeong-hyun Mun
2008, 89 min., Color, South Korea
When director Mun accidentally discovered the diaries of his late granduncle, who was mentally ill, he unexpectedly learned about his family's secret history. The small mountain village in South Jeolla Province where Mun's family lived, was nursing the wounds from conflicts of class, ideology as well as from the displacement of family members in South and North Korea, and even in Japan. It turned out that the history of his family contained all the tragedies of modern Korean history, a history he had only known through textbooks. This interesting documentary investigates a complex history linking the repercussions of Japanese colonialism and the Korean War to the director's family memories.
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J.T. Takagi & Christine Choy
Producer: Third World Newsreel
1991, 56 min., Color, US/Korea
They speak the same language, share a similar culture and once belonged to a single nation. When the Korean War ended in 1953, ten million families were torn apart. By the early 90's, as the rest of the world celebrated the end of the Cold War, Koreans remain separated between North and South, fearing the threat of mutual destruction. Beginning with one man's journey to reunite with his sister in North Korea, director Takagi and producer Choy reveal the personal, social and political dimensions of one of the last divided nations on earth. Written by playwright David Henry Hwang, HOMES APART was also the first US project to get permission to film in both South & North Korea.
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Me-K Ahn
1994, 9 min., Color
A metaphorical reconstruction of the artist's developing identity as an adopted Korean girl in America who returns to Korea for the first time "to search for bits and pieces of my past." A visually powerful autobiographical lamentation on displacement and the search for home.
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Kimberly Saree Tomes
1998, 18 min., Color
Tomes' pseudo-search for her roots as a Korean adoptee takes her from her adoptive father who works in bio-engineering (genetically creating the world's juiciest tomato) to the adoptive relationship between Dave, the founder of Wendy's, and KFC's Colonel Sanders. This wry and ironic tape moves swiftly between pop-culture quotes and today's conventional wisdom on the relationship between genetics and identity. Consistently unbalancing the viewers' expectations with its comic visual juxtapositions, Looking for Wendy is finally a highly contemporary take on the complexities and contradictions of the search for the authentic self.
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Jun seek TAE
2011, 102 min., Color, South Korea
MOTHER follows labor activist Lee So-seon, who for over 40 years organized for workers’ rights in South Korea. A courageous, yet humble woman, Lee’s activism began the day her son, iconic labor activist Chun Tae-il, died in November 1970.
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J.T. Takagi & Hye Jung Park
Edited by Dena Mermelstein
2003, 60 min., Color, North Korea/US
While this tiny state on the divided Korean peninsula is continually demonized in the U.S., few have any first hand knowledge of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. What is it like on the other side of the 38th parallel? How do Koreans in the North view this past decade with the fall of Soviet communism, natural disasters that brought famine and power shortages, and a continued, dangerously hostile relationship with the U.S.? What are the concerns of the Korean American community--many of whom have family in the north? This documentary follows a young Korean American woman to see her relatives, and through unique footage of life in the D.
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Dong-won Kim
Producer: PURN Productions
2003, 149 min., Color, South Korea
In the spring of 1992 documentary filmmaker Dong-won Kim met Cho Chang-son and Kim Seak-hyoung, two North Koreans arrested by South Korean authorities years before. Convicted of spying for the North, they were incarcerated and spent thirty years as political prisoners. These men, and many others like them, underwent conversion schemes in prison that involved torture: those who renounced their communist beliefs were released from prison early. The others, known as "the unconverted," served their full terms. None could return home to the North, however, until the turn of this century, when tensions between North and South eased significantly.
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Soh-Young Kim
2000, 93 min., Color, Korea
This documentary traces the trajectory of a Korean diasporic community in the former Soviet Union. Placed in internment camps by Stalin during World War II, the plight of a generation of Korean-Russians was documented in secret by the artist Shin Sun-nam, whose epic painting 'Requiem' has only recently been made public.
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Anita Lee
1996, 20 min., BW, Canada
An innovative drama that explores the unique relationship between two Korean-Canadian women. Grace, a second generation feminist academic, and Hyang-Sook, a recent immigrant from Korea. Grace is the translator for Hyang-Sook's immigration interviews and finds herself facing a moral dilemma-- is translating a lie an act of lying itself? The conflict is played out in Grace's psychic lanbdscape. In a role as a kiseang, a female court prostitute of 15th century Korea, she finds herself engaged in a mysterious poetry (sijo) competition with Hyan Sook dressed as a nobleman.
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Christina Choe
2000, 25 min., Color
TURMERIC BORDER-MARKS is an experimental documentary set in modern Seoul, Korea, where an intersection becomes two stories of migration, globalization, hybrid identity, cracked mirrors and turmeric (a yellow spice powder). A young Korean-American college student voyages back to the motherland where she meets South Asian migrant workers. These parallel stories illuminate and question our assumptions of identity and culture, as well as power and resistance. Through interviews, poems, super-8 imagery, and a bizarre Bangladesh wedding scene over a speaker phone, we witness a changing world, and a twist to the word "post-modern".
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Se Young JO
2009, 72 min., Color, South Korea
“I was about six. Back then I didn't know what it was or what it was called, so I couldn't tell anyone. But even after I knew what it was, I still couldn't speak out.” --KangYoung, Korean performance artist
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Jeong II Geon
Producer: PURN Productions
2006, 45 min., South Korea
Spurred by the US government's plan to expand military bases in Pyeongtaek city, a war is being waged against the farmers of the South Korean village of Daechuri. In this joint effort by the South Korean and US governments to grab land that these farmers worked on for decades, schools and homes were destroyed, elderly women beaten, and thousands of police surrounded the village and enclosed it with barbed wire. This affecting documentary takes a look at the villagers and their struggle - and their difficult decisions on whether they can continue to stay and fight.
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J.T. Takagi & Hye Jung Park
Producer: Third World Newsreel
1995, 60 min., Color, US/South Korea
Documenting the lives of women who work in the South Korean military brothels and clubs where over 27,000 women "service" the 37,000 American soldiers stationed in the most militarized region of the world, The Women Outside follows their provocative journey from the outskirts of Seoul to the inner cities of America. A testament of endurance and survival, it raises questions about U.S. military policy, South Korean government policy and their common dependence on the sexual labor of women. The Women Outside is a film that challenges the U.S. military presence in Korea, and the role women are forced to play in global geopolitics.
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