Cinematic Testimony to the Repatriation of Zainichi Koreans to North Korea in Yang Yonghi’s Autobiographical Films

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Abstract

This article explores the cinematic potential of representing a silenced history of Korean residents in Japan who were repatriated to their “homeland” (North Korea) by examining Yang Yonghi’s films, Dear Pyongyang (2006), Sona, the Other Myself (2009) and Our Homeland (2012). About 94,000 Koreans in Japan were repatriated to North Korea between 1959 and 1984, but stories of these individuals after their repatriation are largely unknown due to the tightly controlled information about their lives in North Korea and the complex geopolitical relations among South Korea, North Korea and Japan. The repatriates and their families’ experience of separation and multiple displacements is a historical disaster borne of Japanese colonialism and the Cold War. Yang’s autobiographical films visualise the silenced suffering of repatriates in a poignant handling of space, objects and sound that articulates their affective reaction to their homeland. Yang’s works thus make two important contributions to our understanding of the historical disaster: they highlight the ambiguity of the homeland for the repatriates while functioning as a cinematic testimony to the silenced suffering of the repatriates and their families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAsian Studies Review
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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