14th DMZ Docs(2022)
I AM DOCU
I received an email from my friend, who escaped from North Korea and resides in Seoul. His letter contained the heartbreaking story of a former Korean resident in Japan, who immigrated to North Korea during 1970. I read his letter when I was living in India. In India, I began to feed stray dogs. After visiting North Korea in 1997, I was not able to throw away leftover foods, feeling guilty about leaving those who starved to death. In developed countries like Japan, the dogs without human owners on the street would be taken to the facility and will be killed in gas chambers. One day, I witnessed one of the dogs I fed fall seriously ill.
Soni Kum's 2018 work, Dear Dear, captures the artist's poetic response to the novel delivered through North Korean defectors in Japan. Borrowing the form of a handwritten letter, the film begins with a writer living in India reading a novel received from a North Korean defector in Seoul. Japanese society has easily forgotten the Zainichi Koreans who headed north amid the frenzy of propaganda, but the stories of the people who had to live there are conveyed to the artist by a thin string. In reply, the artist delivers a video in which she mourns, in her own way, about the lives and deaths that no one remembered. Dear Dear, when viewed side by side with Testimony, which is screened together, shows a new way of responding to the suffering and testimony of others.
Soni Kum is a multimedia artist who works in film and video, installation, performance. Her work has been featured in art spaces and film festivals around the world such as Japan, Korea, Brazil, Germany and UK.