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Friday, November 05, 2004

Film festivals: Ewha, and Labor

The Ewha Film Festival arranged in the university of the same name hasn't most likely been about marriage in movies; no, it was "'entertaining and artistically challenging films' for foreigners" as put in the Ohmynews article. It's actually not the festival itself that deserves a note but the fact that the article features my acquaintance Dr Lee Hyang-jin from the University of Sheffield - a person whose credits include using my paper (Sŏmin as a Social Category in South Korea) in her class (a thing that I myself haven't done yet), and a well-received work on Korean film called Contemporary Korean Cinema: Identity, Culture and Politics.

Later this month on Nov 16-21 opens the 8th International Labor Film and Video Festival; the slogan of the festival is "Occupy, Resist, Produce! Another world is emerging" (점거하라, 저항하라, 생산하라! 다른 세상이 시작되고 있다). Seems that this line is taken from a Canadian film, which has one Naomi Klein as one of its makers... There are 26 films from 10 countries.

Kind of refreshing to see that despite old-sounding style of talk, someone is at least using the word "worker" or "labor". (Even if this happens in a country in which "workers" do their utmost for their children not to become workers - which is understandable and which is one reason why this festival has its place.) And if the use of the term minjung (民衆) for "people" has been on the decline since the early eighties, this festival is doing its best to revive it.

And who else is pictured in the festival homepage than the late Jun Tae-il (Chôn T'ae-il), who immolated himself in 1970 after a hopeless struggle to improve the working conditions in Seoul downtown factories and to have the labor laws observed. I think I'm repeating myself from some earlier post, but he is a figure that gives legitimacy to workers' concerns, as there's no way he could be painted red.

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