Exploring the Connection between China and North Korea: Seoul Train Part 1

Last year I had first joined Yale University’s branch of THiNK, There’s Hope in North Korea, the group that I had addressed in my previous article. Thinking back to the year I joined, one of my first experiences as a member of THiNK was watching the documentary Seoul Train produced by Lisa Sleeth and Jim Butterworth. I knew that it left a strong impression on me as well as a bit of bitterness toward China, but rather than work from memory, I think that it is a better idea to take another look at the film itself. Continue reading

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An Interesting Pair

My mentee wished me a happy belated birthday this morning. I was surprised. I was convinced he had forgotten me after I tried sending him letters and emails. He was a funny kid. The first time I met him was when all mentors were paired with their mentees; he said something to me in Korean and then suddenly left. I did not understand what he said other than that he was leaving and I didn’t know if or when he was coming back, so I chased him down the corridor calling after him. I clarified the matter then, but I could tell it would be an interesting two weeks. Continue reading

He Told Me He Was from North Korea

Just before heading back to the United States, I took a detour to London for three weeks to meet family and friends. Among my friends who are currently studying in London, one of them is currently enrolled at the school of economics in Regent University. It had been two years since I had last seen her; however, unfortunately, I had arrived in London while she was still in the middle of her dissertation and finals. I decided to stay over for a couple of nights and spend some time at her university so that I could be with her for a few days before I left for America.

Regent University – sits quietly in the middle of Regent Park – no sign announces its presence. My friend tells me that everyone knows it hides in the middle of the trees abreast the lakes of Regent Park. I did not know anything about the university or its students, but I could tell as soon as I walked passed the front gates and into its halls that the students were not from average families. There was a scent about them that suggested the elite. Continue reading

North Korean Defectors and Diversification

When I volunteered at Hangyeore during the summer internship with the Ministry of Unification, I went into the program knowing very little of the history and the political situation revolving around the people who defected from North Korea other than the reality that the difficulty of leaving North Korea to find asylum in South Korea often required the defectors to spend a long time in third countries. However, as I spent time in the school without enough understanding of the Korean language to find out more about the children or other people like them who had defected from North Korea, I felt that it was important to examine further the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and motives for escape from North Korea. In this article, I intend to share what results I found because I am sure there are many others like me who have only a general idea about the situation with defectors but would like to find out more details to better understand how to address the economic, social, and psychological adjustment of the defector community in South Korea. Continue reading

A Hundred-Year Journey of the Family

I had the privilege of working with Professor Kim Duk-chul, the director and producer of A Hundred-Year Journey of the Family, a documentary that appeared in the line-up for documentaries in the sixteenth annual Busan International Film Festival (2011 October 6-14). Professor Kim Duk-chul’s documentary aired on both the 8th of October and the 10th of October. Although I had viewed the documentary while Professor Kim Duk-chul was still editing the film, I was fortunately able to participate in the official first screening of the documentary at the Busan International Film Festival.

The documentary was filmed in Japan over a period of ten years and explored the history and identity-formation of the Korean minority community in Japan. The documentary revealed how the division of the Korean peninsula has not only impacted the lives of people living in North and South Korea, but has also created long-term effects on the Korean communities outside of the boundaries of the peninsula, such as that in Japan. Professor Kim Duk-Chul’s documentary gives the viewer a glimpse of the division of the Korean minority in Japan, the Zainichi Korean community, upon the end of the Korean War and the importance of unification to the communities there as well as to families in North and South Korea. Continue reading