(NOTE: This is for the 2004 film festival.)
The Gwangju International Film Festival kicks off this Thursday (September 2) in, oddly enough, Gwangju.
According to OhmyNews International, there will be a ton of cool films there, including short films, features, documentaries and some old classics such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
As an added Bonus, if you go, you might be able to check out some of Lady Yangban's translation work. Here is a list of some of the translations she has done along with descriptions from the festival web page (Note: these are not reviews). You can click on the links to see the films' schedules:
Note: The fist one on the list is Lady Yangban's first full-length feature film.
Unknown Soldier 78 minutes
Ellison (aka L) just graduated high school and life is breezy. But after his father suddenly dies, all his security is gone. He bounces from place to place staying with a series of friends before landing on the street, and into a shelter. Desperate, he tries to enlist, but the asthma he got from government housing disqualifies him for the Army. Finally, he turns to Zee, his charismatic wealthy neighbor, who has hustled his way up from the streets. Will L honor his hard-working father, or go the way of the streets? “In the end it’s clear L has become a man...He’s left without a home, but his body and soul are intact” (Ferenc Toth)
Shattered Dreams 100min
Lee Daw-ming, documentary director and TV producer, portrays a weary life of a Thai illegal immigrant. As a wage labor, these Thai workers come to Taiwan to get more wages, and this makes their life more miserable.
This film was invited to several film festivals such as 2004 Hong Kong International Film Festival, 2003 Taipei Film Festival and 2003 Taiwan Interntional Ethnographic Film Festival.
From Short Films 1Choosing Love, Judging Love 16min
[It] is the story of how the love of two people affects their relationships with the other around them. The love Rosemary chose as a young lady has forced her to live as an outsider. Her daughter Elizabeth serve as a living reminder of her chosen, lost love of her past. What could Rosemary do to her daughter?
From Short Films 2R.E.M 57min
Amit, a promising filmmaker, suspects his wife Adi is having an affair. While trying to verify his life suspicions, sophia, a mysterious actress invades his life, pulling him into a whirlpool of doubt.
A man is headed for the city of oblivion. There is not much time. He wanders around the city looking for a woman. However, the city deeply immersed in oblivion is getting to be a strong labyrinth to him.
From Short Films3When the things get confused 6min
An angel and a devil come, out of nowhere, in front of a girl trying to commit suicide. An angel keeps saying "linger on", whereas a devil encourage her to do it. The girl's got confused to whom she needs to listen. What in the world can happen to her?
It's just to bad she didn't get Ross McElwee's Sherman's March (which I heard was great) or Bright Leaves (which is set in my home state of North Carolina). I would have loved a free screening.
UPDATE: Arggghh! I met Lady Yangban earlier this evening and we had this conversation:
LY: I feel good.
LY: I helped a friend (from her old KBS translation class).
LY: Yeah, I helped her get a film to translate at the festival.
Y: Oh. What kind of film?
LY: A documentary about some general.
Y: 'Sherman's March?'
LY: Yeah, that's it.
A woman who fled from North Korea two years ago was abducted and taken back there while on her honeymoon in north-east China, her husband said yesterday as he pleaded for her return.
It seems that she was nabbed near the North Korean-Chinese border. What in the world would make her go anywhere near North Korea you ask?
'She wanted to see Mount Paekdu so much, and that's why we went to China for our honeymoon,' Mr Mun told a news conference in Seoul, explaining their belated honeymoon this month. The mountain is on the border of China and North Korea.
Near the end of the trip, the couple went to the Tumen River which forms part of the border.
They knew they were taking a risk, Mr Mun said, but they were promised by Chinese people that they would be meeting a North Korean who would forward gifts to Ms Jin's cousin, who is still in the North.
That is when Mun said the Norks struck:
'There were five people altogether and two of them grabbed my wife from behind,' Mr Mun said, describing the abduction on Aug 8.
He said he fought free of two men and got away, but his wife was taken.
'They were carrying her away in what looked like a sack and she was screaming, and she called after me and she screamed again because maybe they were hitting her.'
South Korean authorities are on the case but, considering how afraid the current government is of making Pyeongyang angry, I don't expect them to make much of a fuss about this.
Also, I hate to say this, but I think Mun's story needs to be checked out. It is not unimaginable that the reported kidnapping could be a cover.
I came across this quote from Uri Party Chairman Lee Bu-young in the Joongang Ilbo:
"Why did those who owned fortunes and received high educations not pay taxes or fulfill their military duties in the past? It was because those who betrayed the country were promoted to higher positions, and then these people avoided paying taxes and dodged military obligations."
The Joongang's reply to Lee was underwhelming to say the least. It basically boils down to 'we should be too busy building our economy to worry about the past.'
But the article did touch on a worrying aspect of the soon to be expanded hunt for collaborators. Lee's comments reveal an attitude that not only should those who collaborated be exposed, they or their children should also pay for their ill-gotten gains.
There is going to be a problem if the investigation actually exposed to the people how pervasive collaboration was in Korea. It would fly in the face of the widely-held perception that it was a relatively small group of traitors who helped Japanese authorities keep a restless freedom-loving population down. From everything I have seen so far, the opposite is true: There were relatively few rebels and the general population was either actively collaborating with Japanese Authorities or at least cooperating with them. Facing that truth would cause cognitive dissonance on a massive scale. So a truly comprehensive investigation into collaboration with the Japanese could very well cause the social fissures that the Joongang warns about as people tried to shift the the guilt they feel for their father's or grandfather's sins to others.
So I will say what I say before, this investigation will not be complete and comprehensive. Scapegoats will be found. I haven't yet heard calls for reparations from the families of collaborators, but I think it will happen sooner or later. This would make for nice cover for the Uri Party to strip away money and property from their political opponents, like with the Chosun Ilbo.
It hasn't happened yet but, just as sure as the Moon rolls around the Earth, it will happen before this investigation is finished.
(NOTE: Don't hit the refresh button. I had buried this in a continuation post and I'm bumping it up.
I'll have a new post (which is already half done) tomorrow.)
Lady Yangban practices for the Olympic coconut throwing competition.
Here is a little post on my trip to Boracay that I promised a couple of weeks ago.
For folks who don't already know, Boracay is a small island in the Phillipines. Because of flight schedules, Lady Yangban and I had to spend one night in Manila before we could make the final flight to Caticlan. A woman from the hotel we were staying at (Paradise Bay) meet us at the Caticlan airport and took us down to the beach where a boat was waiting to take us to Boracay.
As we got on the boat, a group of kids who were swimming nearby came up and started pushing it out to sea. They came up to help again when our boats engine won't start and we drifted into another boat that was anchored at the beach.
Once the engine started, we made our way through the clear waters to our hotel on the 'back' side of the island. There we were met by the owner, Maxie. He is a German who owns the hotel with his wife and, I presume, a Filipino parter (more on that later). He was laid back enough with the guests but, as they say, 'you can take the man out of Prussia but you can't take Prussia out of the man." He ran a pretty tight operation and I overheard him several times yelling at his workers for one reason or another while we were staying there.
We had gotten that hotel because the travel agencies had already reserved most of the larger hotels on the White Beach side of the island. It turns out that there were vacancies at most of the places on White Beach (summer being the off season) and we could have saved some money by just getting a hotel after we arrived there. On the other hand, our hotel was only a 15-minute-walk from White Beach and we could enjoy quiet evenings by ourselves.
We also had the pool to ourselves most of the time, which is good because Lady Yangban is a swimming freak. I think she spent 2-3 hours a day in the pool during our stay.
The White Beach
We spent about half of our waking hours across the island at White Beach.
To get there, we had to negotiate a small footpath and then walk along a dirty road for about ten minutes. That was a good thing because we were able to see how folks live there. A couple of notes:
-The local elementary school has its own fields in which the students (in their uniforms) work. I don't know if the crops they grow are for sale or their own consumption.
-The main form of transportation on the island are 'tricycles;' motorcycles with large side cars. I had a picture of Lady Yangban in one but she didn't like the way she looked in it and told me that I couldn't post it. I'm nothing if not obedient.
-Also, I didn't see any docks on the island. The boats just get as close to the shore as they can and people wade out to them. If you don't want to get wet, the guys will carry you.
The rainy season winds kept the surf up and there were screens erected in front of most of the businesses to keep sand from blowing inside. The beach itself was as pretty as advertised and we enjoyed just walking along it.
When we wanted to swim in the surf, we realized the biggest disadvantage of staying on the other side of the island. We had to leave our stuff, including that day's food and shopping money, on the beach while we were in the water. It was a bit of a pain in the butt to have to keep an eye on our stuff while we swam.
Stuff to do: Diving
I don't like being under water, as Lady Yangban discovered when she played the 'dunk Andy's head' game. But she loves water and I decided to give a diving class a try. Maxie hooked us up with German diver (note: we probably could have saved some money by arranging things ourselves).
Things started smoothly enough. We watched an instructional video and our Dutch guide (the thin dude in the picture) taught us how to use the equipment in the Paradise Bay pool. We then went out on their boat to a reef near the island. Once the boat was anchored, we went down with the Dutch Dude while the German Guy stayed with the boat.
That is when things started to fall apart.
We followed the anchor line down and got a couple of pictures taken (sorry, analog camera). Then we started to explore the reef. My problem was that, despite wearing seven lead weights, I was still too buoyant and I started floating to the surface. It didn't help matters that I kept my legs under me so I pushed up every time I moved my legs.
After I broke the surface I swam over to the boat and got another weight from the German Guy. I then started back down along the anchor line to try to find Lady Yangban and the Dutch Dude. But I started kicking myself back to the service again. Then I got the bright idea of pulling myself down the anchor line. I gave the line a good tug... and dislodged the achor. The German Guy had to take his boat out of the area (he could not throw it down again with folks down there).
I finally figured out how to orient myself properly and got down to where I thought they would be. Alas, they were not there. I decided to surface again in the hopes that they would go up to meet me. I popped my head out of the water and looked around. I didn't see them but I did see a boat heading right at me! Luckily, they saw me and slowed down enough for me to swim out of their way.
I then went down for the third time. I swam along the edge of the reef and took a picture of a fish. After a few minutes down there by myself, I started to freak out (I am not muey macho) and went back up. This time Lady Yangban and the Dutch Dude where in the boat waiting for me. It seems that my wandering off had cut down their time under the surface.
I felt bad about shortening her diving time and she was pretty angry while we were waiting at the beach for our ride back to the hotel. But she really liked the diving and plans to get certified as soon as she can.
Stuff to do: Sailing
One thing I highly recommend is renting one of the sailing boats that are parked at White Beach for a cruise. It's cheap and fun.
We rented a boat for a one-hour round trip to another beach at far end of the island. We sat or laid down on netting on either side of the boat while the captain, aided by his nephew/apprentice, worked the boat against the wind. Watching them work the rigging was almost as interesting to me as seeing the sea and the island.
We hung out on the small beach for about 15 minutes, enjoying ourselves in relative seclusion. Then made a dash (with the wind this time) back to White Beach in plenty of time to enjoy the sunset. It was one of the most pleasant parts of the trip. A word of warning; if you ride on one those boats, you will get wet. Luckily, both of us were already in our swimming gear.
The economics of Beach Resorts and Filipina Wives
Being a poli-sci dork, I couldn't help but ask the captain/owner of the sailing boat about the economic system on Boracay.
He told me that most of the major businesses on Boracay where owned by foreigners. Apparently, foreigners can not owner property in the Philippines. So, how do they get to own most of the businesses in Boracay? They keep the property in the names of their Filipina wives. That was confirmed later in a conversation with one of the German guests at our hotel who told me that all of the farmland he has in the Philippines has to be kept in the name of his Filipina wife.
That is a very interesting phenomenon which might be worth studying if someone had the time to spend researching it.
It also is a microcosm of the dilemmas facing developing countries in deciding whether or not to take a lot of foreign investment. The locals on Boracay had neither the capital nor the business experience to start their own businesses and the Filipina-wife-owned businesses employ a lot of people and create secondary business opportunities for people like the captain of our boat. On the other hand, the profits from those businesses goes into the pockets of the foreign businessmen rather than the locals and at least some of that money is sent out of the Philippines to the businessmens' homelands.
Food and Nightlife
Being on an island, we ate seafood for lunch and dinner almost everyday. Since our time on Boracay was short (only four days), we made a point of goint to different places in order to sample as much of what the island has to offer as we could.
One item that is 'required eating' is lapu lapu (pictured), a local variety of grouper. It is named after the chieftain whose warriors killed Ferdinand Magellan at the Battle of Mactan. I enjoyed it but I thought that the grilled swordfish I had the day before was a little better.
The prices were reasonable. Meals were about 30% cheaper than comparable meals in Korea. We rarely paid more than the equivalent of 8,000 won ($7.00) for the both of us.
Nightlife? Frankly, we didn't get out that much in the late evening. There were many bars and at least one night club that we could have gone to but our evening activities pretty much consisted of walks along the beach. We also went out to a patio a couple of times to see the night sky.
There were some other things which I really enjoyed on the trip, including:
-Having dinner with some laid-back Filipinos who were on Boracay on a diving trip.
-Slicing and munching on fresh guava while looking out on the cove behind the hotel.
-Sitting back under the stars and watching bats go to town on the mosquitoes. They must have done a good job because I was bitten less on Boracay that I usually am on evenings in Korea.
-Watching Lady Yangban really, really enjoy her evening swim.
Lady Yangban enjoying an evening swim. NOTE: I have been told to inform my readers that she is not swimming in the nude.
My only major problem with Boracay is that my time there was too short.
This might be a major heresy in a political year when both sides think the Republic will fall if the other guy gets elected, but Bush and Kerry are singing from the same sheet on issues of war and peace.
Kerry's speeches and interviews with his military advisers make clear that he fundamentally agrees with Bush that the United States must maintain its unquestioned military dominance, the ability to project power anywhere it is needed, and that the United States should not just react to attacks, but be willing to launch preventive or pre-emptive wars.
"Our military must be prepared to defeat any enemy, anytime, any place," Kerry said in a national security address in June in which he outlined his philosophy. "As president, I will use military force to protect our interests anywhere in the world, whenever necessary."
Both candidates were for the invasion of Iraq, both plan to maintain US troops in Iraq, both plan to reduce their numbers as Iraqi troops are trained to take over, both favor maintaining a large US presence overseas, both favor maintaining military dominance over any potential opponent (read: China), both support pre-emptive attacks.
The strange thing is that, with security issues overtaking the economy as the election's major issues, this leaves a large chunk of the electorate without a candidate. Depending on which poll you see, 40-50% of the electorate now think the war in Iraq was not worth it. The lack of major differences between Bush and Kerry on Iraq and other national security issues means that someone who wants to make a protest vote against the war doesn't have anywhere to go. This is no real surprise when you think about what happened to the peace candidates back during the Vietnam era:
During the Vietnam era there were occasional peace candidates, such as George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy. But today, even with the United States involved in an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq, the major candidates share a steadfast belief in relying on military might as a key tool for accomplishing international objectives.
Do you remember President McGovern? Neither do I.
I'll leave you with today's money shot from a member of Kerry's campaign team:
"There is no peace candidate in this race," said Ashton Carter, a Defense Department official in the Clinton administration and now a senior Kerry adviser on military matters who helped craft the June policy speech. "No candidate who is a peace candidate ought to win."
More money shots
Carter got the money shot for this post but I have to share two honorable mentions:
"There's no constituency for the debate on what sort of military power we should be. Bush and Kerry do have different visions on how to run our empire, but there is no discussion on whether we should have it."
-John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org
"The Democrats have offered no real alternative on these issues of militarism and empire. They want the same things"
Back in June, when folks in the Uri Party were trying to expand the scope of investigations into collaboration with the Japanese colonial government, I had this to say:
While this looks to me to be a witch-hunt to try to humiliate some prominent Korean families, it may have unintended consequences... So, if this project is going to be truly comprehensive, I suspect that there will be a lot of people who will not like what they see.
I'm feeling pretty cocky right now because, the anti-collaborator witch hunt has already come up to bite Uri in the butt. It turns out that Uri Party chairman Shin Ki-nam’s father, Shin Sang-mook was a Japanese military policeman.
Uri Party representative Ahn Young-keun argued in an interview with a broadcaster, “Chairman Shin has deceived the public by hiding and lying about his father’s activities during the Japanese colonial era. He has to be held responsible for it as soon as possible and he is not qualified to pursue a career as a politician.” Within the ruling party, a view is spreading that Shin’s concealment is more problematic than his father's record itself. Seemingly, the resignation issue will be decided in two or three days.
Uri Party floor leader Chon Jung-bae turned down the suggestion of Shin’s resignation that day, saying, “Chairman Shin should not become a victim of the guilt-by-association system just because his father was an MP during the Japanese colonial period. It is also inappropriate to ask him to take responsibility, because he has not actively tried to hide or lie about it.” Uri Party lawmaker Moon Hee-sang also said, “I think that chairman Shin has not done any unforgivable wrongdoings.”
Now, if your daddy had done something like that, then I suspect that you would want to be quiet about it too.
Oranckay thinks that he might smell a rat in this whole affair. I'm not sure if I would go that far but I've talked about before; their are a lot more skeletons in people's closets than they realize.
For every Ahn Chang Ho or Kim Gu there were ten people like Shin Sang-mook who collaborated with the Japanese in one form or another, either by joining the Japanese police, selling the colonial government food and other goods, or helping with colonial administration.
The problem now is that Uri wants to expand the scope of the investigation into past collaboration from senior decision makers to mid and lower level functionaries. I can't believe that the Uri folks are serious about digging into the past of all collaborators because the numbers involved are just too great and would include members of most Korean families.
If Uri really plans to go through with this, then Shin's problems are just the beginning of the blowback.
My grad school, George Washington University will be setting up a satillite campus on Cheju-do in 2006. One of the main reasons for setting up campuses outside of the US is to get around visa requirements:
So far, GWU has tried to establish overseas campuses in Korea, China and the Middle East. This is because there are limits in attracting Asian students to study in the United States, and in particular, it is very difficult for Chinese students, many of whom would love to study in the United States, to gain visas.
GWU president Trachtenberg said, “While we try to find the place where Chinese students who want to study in the U.S. can obtain visas without difficulties, Jeju has satisfied several conditions.” He added, “Jeju is easy for Korean and Chinese students to access.”
I still haven't gotten a call with a job offer. I expect one any day now.
Run away! Run away! Kiddies beat a hasty retreat from fire extinguishers. (Reuters/Lee Jae-Won photo)
About 7,000 Hanchongnyon kids and their supporters took to the streets to have another go at the riot police yesterday. The reason this time was a call for Korean troops to pull out of Iraq and American troops to pull out of Korea:
South Korean police used water cannon in central Seoul Sunday to disperse at least 7,000 protesters urging the government to reverse a controversial decision to send more troops to Iraq.
Rock-throwing protesters clashed with riot police as they tried to march on the U.S. embassy near the central government compound and the presidential Blue House, witnesses said.
Note to the media: These were not 'protesters.' They were rioters. As I said a few months ago, Korean riots are not protests gone wrong. They are planned as riots ahead of time.
Anyway, from the pictures that I have seen, the kiddies didn't put up as much of a fight as the farmers did last winter. Of course, the hot weather may have slowed things down a bit.
During the course of riot/protests, the kids also ripped apart an American flag. The irony of doing such a thing on Liberation Day seemed to have been lost on them.