This series was prompted by the unusually large number of fascinating recent films—both features and documentaries—from and about both North & South Korea. Additionally, this fall semester Cornell’s East Asia Program will be hosting film scholar Miseong Woo, from Yonsei University, as part of their Distinguished Visiting Professorship in Korean Studies. Miseong Woo specializes in contemporary Korean cinema and she will be teaching a course on Korean modernity and popular culture. She will also be convening a symposium on Korean media on November 4 & 5. According to Woo, “These [films] are the most hot, controversial films right now in Korea and will likely generate very interesting discussion among the audience.” Professor Woo will introduce Spirits’ Homecoming, a film about two Korean girls who are kidnapped by Japanese soldiers and forced to work in a so-called “comfort station” during WWII. She will also introduce the two documentaries in the series: Under the Sun, a controversial film about life in Pyongyang, North Korea that reveals the multiple facades of the country; and The Lovers and the Despot, about the real life kidnapping of a famous South Korean director and actress by North Korea's then leader, Kim Jung-Il.
The screening of Seoul Searching, a John Hughes-inspired teen movie about a group of Korean high schoolers from around the world who come together at a summer camp in 1986 Seoul to learn what it means to be Korean, will be followed by a Q & A with director Benson Lee (Planet B-boy) via Skype. The series is cosponsored with the East Asia Program.