Tour of Duty
KOREA / 2013 / Korean / Color / Blu-ray / 150 min
Directors, Script: Kim Dong-ryung, Park Kyoung-tae
Photography: Yoon Jong-ho, Kim Dong-ryung, Park Kyoung-tae, Jang Ji-nam
Editing: Kim Dong-ryung, Park Kyoung-tae, Mun Jun-young
Sound: Sound Way
Narration: Park Mi-hyun
Production Company and World Sales: Cinema DAL
Three former prostitutes live discreetly in a town ruled by silence, in an abandoned red light district near a U.S. base in the northern Gyeonggi Province of Korea. They entrust us with stories from their tumultuous past, offering poetic monologues that carry the screams of women who cherish the memories that linger with their bodies. Their home will be demolished soon. They bear scars that will not heal in the span of a lifetime. As they wander about the ruins, we witness their resistance against the oblivion of their many memories.
[Director’s Statement] After we had worked on a series of documen- taries about U.S. military base towns, mainly focusing on the lives of our protagonists in a relatively traditional “direct cinema” way, our interests shifted to the actual space of this decaying village.
Initially, we intended to make a photo book about the demolishing of base towns as an archival piece. Upon researching this issue, we discovered that more than 30 old villages near the DMZ had been U.S. military base towns in the past. However, it was not only the enormous scale of these base town areas that was surprising, but also the fact that a historical reality that was once viscerally present has now been totally forgotten. The reluctant and uncomfortable responses of old villagers and their shy and shameful comments about the past added a new dimension to this rundown place and its history. Thus, it was natural for us to imagine ghosts wandering around these ruins and empty alleyways given our current frame of mind—especially since we were consumed with the recent deaths of two American-Koreans (Myeong-soo who is featured in Park’s film There Is and Jong-chul, who was beaten to death in 2007).
The space itself did not say anything. The space, after all, contains human memory within. Our initial plot was about dead orphans drifting home before a demolition, represented by three different figures. A long-term relationship allowed us to experiment and to test different cinematic possibilities. Three different ethical methods were chosen to reproduce each character. Hence, the space is psychologically immersed in their everyday lives and memory. Tour of Duty pays homage to these women as survivors, as well as to space, the witness of all time.
Kim Dong-ryung & Park Kyoung-tae
Kim Dong-ryung was born in 1977 and graduated from Ewha Womans University with a degree in English Language and Literature, and studied filmmaking at the Korean Academy of Film Arts. She directed American Alley (2008), a feature-length documentary about foreign women working as entertainers in the U.S. military camp towns, which won the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize at YIDFF 2009. Park Kyoung-tae was born in 1975 and Graduated from Dongguk University with a master’s degree in Sociology. He has built up an intimate perspective on survivors of base towns through his documentaries Me and the Owl (2003) and There is (2006). Since 2011, both Kim and Park have been studying in Paris. Shuttling back and forth between Korea and France, they are currently working on audiovisual projects about space, violence, and memories.