Archive for August, 2009
An article from the Daily NK, an online news source which reports on issues regarding North Korea, the South & Reunification, offering another perspective of the Laura Ling/Euna Lee return home. This article focuses on the story of a man abducted by the North in the hijacking of a Korean Air flight forty years ago, and the efforts of his son to bring him back:
And on this note, the two Koreas will meet and resume talks over reviving family reunions. I am watching this closely, as to be here and witness this event would be incredible, to say the least. I have a great uncle on my mother’s side who was abducted by the North many years ago. No one has heard from him since. I cannot imagine living through such circumstances.
It is no wonder that 한 ‘han’ exists as such a salient and particular cultural concept.
[click on image to play.]
I’ve been collecting bits of audio & video on my ventures out into the city, and this is just a little compilation of some of the things I’ve seen and heard.
The music is being performed live by North Korean defector, Seong-Jin Park & Ewha University’s traditional music ensemble. This is from the Beautiful Dream Concert held on the 15th. The other audio track was recorded on a subway platform. The video tower is by Ik-joong Kang & Nam June Paik.
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The time here has been interesting… inspiring, exhausting, mystifying, and daunting. Sometimes all at once. I will admit to a few moments of homesickness. But overall, the feeling of being here is quite good.
I realized there is a general absence of sirens, honking horns, shouting. Occasionally in the afternoons a man in a truck drives through the little side streets, announcing over a loud speaker what electronic goods he has for sale on board. Other than that, things are pretty staid. After living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which always felt like one of the loudest neighborhoods in NYC – especially in the summer when everyone loved to have parties in their backyards with huge PA systems blasting reggaeton into the wee hours – this is a much welcomed change. How far away from that am I?
Looking forward to checking out a mandoo (dumpling) restaurant nearby, and also where I can get the perfect bowl of ja jang myun. These little things add up.
Even though I, like many others in the US, was so relieved when the Current TV journalists were pardoned by the North Koreans and watched their homecoming through every news outlet, I have to say that when they were arrested back in March by the DPRK, I thought, what the **** were they thinking?!? How could they have possibly allowed themselves to get caught like this? Naivete? Brash & blinded indie-style journalist guerrilla-ism? WTF?!
The incredulous-ness grew as I learned that they were covering the plight of North Korean refugees. – Great, not only did they risk their own lives through this ordeal, but also the lives of the very North Koreans they were trying to advocate for, and who would no doubt actually face the labor camps – not a guest house – should they get caught.
I wondered what happened to the tapes & materials they must have had on hand.
So I am glad to find this article on the Times site, which brings to light several of the very real problems this event has raised. Lives are still at risk, though the women are safely home. Maybe it will be helpful once they start talking, because the information here does not look good:
For those of you who don’t really know exactly why I am here (don’t worry, I’m figuring this out too as the days go by…), you may view my project proposal here:
This is the seed of thought that has brought me to where I am now, and will undoubtedly be adjusted and further defined as things progress. Your thoughts, comments, links, etc are welcome.
After some feedback from a very important person, I have changed the look of this vlog.
Enjoy the squeaky clean-ness!
Made it to the National Museum of Contemporary Art today. It was a little bit of an arduous task, but once I sweat my way through the trek, it proved to be well worth it. The museum is situated within Seoul Grand Park, a vast expanse of nature in the city, which also houses a zoo and various children’s rides. It was so beautiful and serene, surrounded by green mountains – I felt like I was somewhere outside of the city far away from the subway I had just exited.
There was an amazing array of work from Korean artists of the 19th-21st cent, largely little or unknown in the U.S. I am still processing all of the work that I saw today. To see pieces created in the last 100 years of Korea, through Japanese occupation and the Korean War was really profound:
Artist: 이형록 [Hyong-rok Lee] – circa 1950-ish
On special exhibition were works by video & installation artist Ik-Joong Kang, who also collaborated closely with Nam June Paik, as well as the 2009 artist of the year, Suh Yong-sun, and an overview of works of the “Korean Diaspora” – specifically artists who have immigrated to Japan, China, & the Commonwealth of Independent States (fascinating).
Here is a little preview of what I saw (from Ik-joong Kang/except for 1st image – Kang & Nam June Paik):
There is much more that I wish I could post right now, but I am realizing that I need to spend the next few days just processing all the media I have been collecting…. video soon to come.
Time to dive into the editing!
Oh yeah, just as a side note, I successfully found a shortcut to my subway station. It cuts the time in half, and a much more enjoyable path – through a series of quiet residential streets. Still trying to navigate the subway system, which is fairly user-friendly except if you get on the platform going in the wrong direction. Then life may suck for a moment, especially in rush hour, as you try to find the path to the right platform. I’m used to the MTA in NYC, which has been notorious for making transit hell, so this really shouldn’t be a problem!….