YIDFF 2005 BORDERS WITHIN—What It Means to Live in Japan
An Interview with Yi Hyo-in (Director of The Korean Film Archive)
Interviewer: Okada Hidenori

A Forward-looking Film History Exchange

We asked director of The Korean Film Archive Yi Hyo-in and the National Film Center (The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo) Researcher Okada Hidenori to speak together about the Zainichi program.

OH: What are your thoughts on the significance of this program?

YH: I think it’s extremely interesting that the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival is presenting a program on zainichi. I was able to confirm the existence of our zainichi compatriots living in Japan, also to better understand Mindan and Chongryon members against the background of the North-South division, as well as the Japanese who see them. The program also introduced some very rare film footage, which is extremely important. This program, with all of its implications, would probably be difficult to handle at other large film festivals. I think the fact that this program was put together at such an earnest festival as Yamagata is extremely important.

By including new films such as The Man with Two Names (dir. Tanaka Fumihito) in addition to older works, the festival is helping to build the foundations of a forward-looking friendship between Korea and Japan. Tanaka, the director, learns about Kim Hak-seong through communication with his mentor Okazaki Kozo, and while investigating uncovers a hidden Korean-Japanese film history. Perhaps Tanaka started the movie with more simple motives, but as he uncovers this Korean-Japanese film history during the production, the movie starts to take on a very special meaning.

OH: The movie has the potential to become the start of new research connecting the film histories of Japan and Korea.

YH: I agree. This work looks at an unknown part of Korean film history. In that sense, I think it will help people in the Korean film world to develop a new awareness of the issues.

From my own point of view, I am very impressed that not only film specialists, but also general audiences took interest and came to the screening, filling up the 100 seat theater. In a sense this is a very unusual program, but I’m thrilled that so many people are coming to watch it through to the end.

I’m also very happy that I’ve been able to meet Chongryon zainichi compatriots who have, up to now, been very difficult to meet. I always feel it’s inexcusable when I see Chongryon members drawn in a very violent way in Korean films that deal with zainichi. I explained that to the Chongryon people at the screening, and apparently Mindan members are shown in a similar way in their films as well. But they said, “Doesn’t that all belong in the past?” I’m very grateful about it all.

(Compiled by Kato Takanobu)

Interpreter: Yamazaki Remina
Photography: Hata Ayumi / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2005-10-09