Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bend it like Jong - Japan

A fairly in-depth look at North Korea's new soccer hero: Jong Tae Se and the Zainichi story between Japan and North Korea. Features well-known Zainichi activist Shin Soguk.

Please click on title for the Youtube link!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

7.11 Kyoto/Shiga Assembly: Demanding Free Tuition for Korean Schools!

Eclipse Rising members, Haruki and Kyung Hee attended the 7.11 Kyoto/Shiga Assembly to demand the equal educational rights for Korean schools on Sunday, July 11. Initially, Korean schools and other foreign/international schools were excluded from the new law that made high school education tuition-free. In response to the protest from those schools as well as a broader Japanese society, the Ministry revised the law and included 31 foreign/international schools. However, 10 Korean high schools are still excluded because of its relation with the DPRK (aka North Korea). True, the schools are affiliated with the pro-DPRK organization, Chungryun. Even though they meet every criterion and qualify for the law, the Ministry problematized their affiliation with Chungryun.
At the assembly, the human-rights attorney, Egashira who just came back from Geneva gave a report on her experience lobbying and attending the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights meeting. The OHCHR showed concerns about the unequal treatment of Chinese, Korean and other non-Japanese school by the Japanese government . Specifically it demanded the Japanese government that it should increase financial support for those schools and give rights to take university entrance exams to the graduates of those schools based on the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education. Other speakers included Korean school students, their parents, Korean school teachers, Zainichi Korean elders, Japanese poets, graduate students, community activists and Brazilian school principal from Shiga.
What struck me was that most speakers repeated and emphasized that Korean schools are no different from Japanese schools, and Korean students are as "good" as Japanese students. They say, hence, Korean schools should not be excluded from the new tuition-free program. But I think education should not be a privilege. Education should be a right. This means that all kinds of people -both "bad" and "good" (whatever that implies) should equally be given an opportunity to enjoy the right to learn. Both "bad" and "good" schools should equally be given resources to provide education to their students. This very way to divide "bad" and "good", and only "good" can be a recipient of the privilege is exactly how the colonizers used the divide & conquer tactics against us, the colonized. The tactics we should not use against ourselves.

The colonized are often inclined to want to be "good" so that they can be tolerated, included and approved by the colonizers. To be "honorary Japanese" has become a dream for the many colonized for so many years in so many different ways. This false consciousness is nurtured through violence in different forms, one of which is, I think schooling. As a Korean, Japanese school system was a process of learning self-hate. On the contrary, Korean high school students who spoke against the exclusion in the video seemed emotionally more stable because they know their language and history and why they were born and raised in Japan. None of those knowledge was available when I was a student in Japan.

Being exposed to pro-DPRK ideology at school while enjoying the luxury in Japan that is extremely anti-DPRK, Korean school students are naturally trained to have relational views on things. However, it seemed that their critical comments on Japanese racism seemed as if they were echoing what their teachers and parents said and it made me scared. Indeed, any sort of schooling is a system of regulating one's thinking whether pro-Japan or pro-DPRK. If they are engaged in a true critical thinking, how could they only condemn Japanese racism and not mention sexism that exists powerfully in Korean schools/school system at all, for example? I truly believe that the major reason why the number of Korean students who attend Korean schools has declined has always been because of the discriminatory treatment by the Japanese government, but I cannot stop thinking that Chongryun might have used the Japanese as their enemy and oppressor a bit too conveniently... to not confront their own issues and blame everything on the Japanese. It is about time for us to really think what it means to be Korean as Zainichi, rather than honorable overseas nationals. What kind of knowledge and skills do we need? What kind of education do we want to provide? What kind of Zainichi do we want to become?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kazuyuki Izutsu on Rightist Rage

Friday, May 18, 2007

Unafraid of rightist rage

Directors tend to be articulate types, especially when discussing (or rather spinning) their own films, but Kazuyuki Izutsu has few equals in the art of spoken communication, in or out of the director's chair. From snappy one-liners about dull movies to verbal bombshells aimed at local rightists, Izutsu says exactly what's on his active, unorthodox mind to everyone from television viewers of late-night talk shows to this reporter in a recent interview at the headquarters of Cine Quanon, which is distributing his new film "Pacchigi! Love & Peace."

Now 56 years old, Izutsu has had a long, up-and-down career as a director, beginning with his apprenticeship in pink ("adult") films in the 1970s. In the past decade he has become a familiar presence on TV, while making hit after acclaimed hit, including "Pacchigi!," the Kyoto Romeo and Juliet drama that swept local awards in 2005.

In speaking with "The Japan Times," Izutsu was more subdued and serious than in his TV appearances, but then the discussion revolved around war movies, social prejudice against Koreans in Japan and the rightist reaction to his latest film, "Pacchigi! Love & Peace."

You seem to have a made "Pacchigi! Love & Peace" as a response to "Ore wa, Kimi no Tame ni Koso, Shi ni Iku," the tokkotai (kamikaze) pilot film executive produced by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.

There have been a lot of movies like that one. When major film companies in Japan are stuck for a film, they make one about the tokkotai (pilots). They have a pretty good idea that that sort of theme will draw audiences, so they make it.

But your kind of film is tougher to make.

I never could have made it with a major film company. I was only able to do it because Lee Bong-ou (president of Cine Quanon and an ethnic Korean living in Japan) was backing me. Cine Quanon is about the only company I can imagine doing it.

The film is set in 1974 when Japan's ethnic Koreans in show business were afraid to reveal their true identities because of the prejudice against them inside and outside the industry. Is it different today?

Not really. Japanese society hasn't changed that much, and that includes Japanese show business. Ethnic Koreans are still reluctant to say who they are; they worry that they might not get any more work. There's still a lot of discrimination against them. In a lot of foreign countries, the entertainment business tends to be more progressive than the surrounding society — that's only natural isn't it? — but in Japan it's still feudalistic and conservative.

In "Pacchigi! Love & Peace" you satirize not just Japanese show business, but rightist war movies and the ideology behind them. I can't help comparing it to "Minbo no Onna (The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion)" (1992), which got director Juzo Itami nearly stabbed to death by yakuza who didn't like the way he portrayed the gangs. Do you worry that that sort of thing might happen to you?

Actually, a lot of yakuza came to see "Pacchigi!" — they're some of my biggest supporters. (laughs)

But there's a difference between the yakuza and the rightists, isn't there? Won't the rightists be angry with you for disrespecting the tokkotai?

I don't disrespect the tokkotai themselves. They had a certain mission to carry out, a mission that they didn't choose. I don't blame them for carrying out their mission — and the film doesn't blame them. But I do have problems with films that distort the historical reality of what the tokkotai were. I think (audiences) will understand that, so I'm not worried about my personal safety.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Justice for Equal Educational Rights for Korean School Students!

On April 30, after major protests all over Japan (starting with the 3.27 Tokyo Assembly), the Japanese Ministry of Justice announced that their revised tuition-free program for high school students now includes 31 non-Japanese schools (such as Chinese, Taiwanese, and other so-called international schools), but still persistently excludes 10 Korean high schools. Even though their programs and curricula satisfy the criteria, due to the strong connections with pro-North Korea organization, Chongryun, Korean high schools were again denied the equal educational rights by the Japanese government. Eclipse Rising sent a solidarity message to the 3.27 Assembly and the high school students saying that we, as diasporic Zainichi Koreans, support the collective efforts to demand the equal educational rights for Korean high school students. The Japanese government has changed the criteria for the free-tuition program again and again to enable them to exclude ONLY Korean schools. On June 26, 1200 people gathered in Shiba park in Tokyo to protest the Japanese government's racist policy (which Eclipse Rising also endorsed). Video is found here:
This Sunday, July 11, Eclipse Rising members Haruki and Kyung Hee are fortunate enough to attend the Kyoto Assembly! We will report after the event!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Resilience by Tammy Chu

AKASF presents RESILIENCE by Tammy Chu
Posted June 22, 2010 by Luis in FILM EVENTS

Association of Korean Adoptees, San Francisco (AKASF) presents RESILIENCE by Tammy Chu: A Special Community Outreach Event in partnership with the Center for Asian American Media.

A story of loss and separation, RESILIENCE is a character-driven documentary that takes a unique look at international adoption from the perspective of a Korean birth mother and her American son. A single story among the thousands of stories untold, the film follows the remarkable journey of Myungja as she reconnects with her son Brent (Sung-wook) after 30 years apart.

SAN FRANCISCO – Age 21 + Only ( ID Required )

Thursday, July 8, 2010
7:00 p.m | Documentary Film and Q&A
8:30 p.m | Reception with Director Tammy Chu

Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
1881 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

$15 – Film Only | $30 Film & Reception
Online Registration Deadline | Wednesday, July 7, 2010

OAKLAND – Appropriate for Ages 13 years or older
Saturday, July 10, 2010
1:30 p.m | Documentary Film and Q&A
3:30 p.m | Panel Discussion on Adoption
Moderator: Deann Borshay

Head Royce School
4315 Lincoln Avenue
Oakland, CA 94602

5:00 p.m | Reception with Director Tammy Chu
Silver Dragon Restaurant
835 Webster Street
Oakland, CA 94601

$15 Film Only | $30 Film & Reception
Online Registration Deadline | Friday, July 9, 2010

AKASF RESILIENCE Panel Discussion on Adoption
Saturday, July 10, 2010 @ 3:30 p.m.
Head Royce School
Oakland, CA


Tammy Chu (Korean Adoptee), Producer/Director, Resilience – Tammy Chu was born in Seoul, Korea and was adopted by a U.S. family along with her twin sister. She graduated with a B.S. in Cinema and Photography from Ithace College. She wrote and directed her first documentary, Searching for Go-Hyang, a personal film about reuniting with her birth family. It has been broadcast on PBS, Korean TV (EBS), and screened at film festivals internationally. She also worked as an Associate Producer on Behind Forgotten Eyes. Tammy has been living in Korea for the past several years working as an independent filmmaker and is a member of the film collective Nameless Films.

Beth Hall (Adoptive Parent/Agency Representative), Co-Founder/Director, PACT – Beth Hall is an adoption educator who, co-founded Pact, An Adoption Alliance, which is a multicultural adoption organization dedicated to addressing essential issues affecting adopted children of color. Pact offers lifelong support and placement services for birth and adoptive families with adopted kids of color. A national speaker, she is also the author of numerous articles and a book, Inside Transracial Adoption, which is filled with personal stories, practical suggestions, and theory, and delivers the message that race matters, racism is alive, and families built transracially can develop strong and binding ties. Commitment to family is a way of life for Beth. She is the white adoptive mom of two young adults: Sofia, Latina, and James, African American. Beth grew up a member of an adoptive family—her sister, Barbara, was adopted. She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and children, when they are home from college. Find out more by contacting PACT, An Adoption Alliance.

Deann Borshay Liem (Korean Adoptee), Korean Adoptee, AKASF Advisory Board – Deann Borshay Liem has over twenty years experience working in development, production and distribution of independent documentaries. She is Producer, Director, and Writer for the Emmy Award-nominated documentary, First Person Plural (Sundance, 2000), and Executive Producer for Spencer Nakasako’s Kelly Loves Tony (PBS, 1998) and AKA Don Bonus (PBS, 1996, Emmy Award). She served as Co-Producer for Special Circumstances (PBS, 2009) which follows Chilean exile, Hector Salgado, as he attempts to reconcile with former interrogators and torturers in Chile. She was the former director of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) where she supervised the development, distribution and broadcast of new films for public television and worked with Congress to support minority representation in public media. A Sundance Institute Fellow and a recipient of a Rockefeller Film/Video Fellowship, Deann is the Director, Producer and Writer of the new feature-length documentary, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee. She is currently Executive Director of Katahdin Productions, a non-profit documentary production company based in Berkeley and Los Angeles, California.

Debra Baker (Birth Mother), Member, CUB, Filmmaker/Presenter, Debra graduated with a degree in English Literature, and was a health care provider for 25 years. She wrote, produced, directed, and edited Broken Ties and Lost and Found, and her writing has appeared in adoption publications. Ms. Baker’s films have aired on PBS, local cable TV, and on the Women’s Television Network in Canada, as well as screening at numerous film festivals around the country and the U.K. A reunited birthmother, she is a frequent presenter at adoption conferences in the U.S. and Canada, and was awarded the Excellence in Broadcast Media Award by the American Adoption Congress in 2002. She lives in Marin County where she is in pre-production on a new project.

Busy Worker Bee
PACT, An Adoption Alliance
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Republic of Korea
Thomas Park Clement
Head-Royce School

Community Partners:
Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)
Concerned United Birthmothers (CUB)
Cvent – Online Event Registration
Korean Community Center – East Bay (KCCEB)
Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC)
San Francisco Film Society (SFFS)
Silver Dragon Restaurant
Sundance Cinemas

To register or for more information, please contact AKASF.
800.450.7896 | events [at] akasf [dot] com |