Editor’s Note (UPDATED): Sino-NK “On Its Way to Meet You” at SOAS
In 2011, South Korean cable network Channel-A launched a new program, Ije mannareo gamnida (Now on My Way to Meet You; 이제 만나러 갑니다). In keeping with many other programs broadcast in modern South Korea, Imangap (for short) is a light entertainment talk show. However, there is much more to it than that.
As regular readers of Sino-NK will already be aware (see here, as well), the show involves a rolling roster of roughly a dozen female talbukja (defectors; 탈북자). These young women interact with host Nam Hui-seok, an additional female co-host or two, and a panel composed of four male South Korean entertainers.
Shows typically open in a lighthearted manner, with conversation about daily life in North Korea. There is singing, dancing, athletic performances, and mild flirtation between Southern male and Northern female participants. However, this then slowly builds to a radically different climax: an emotionally harrowing narrative from one of the border-crossers in which she details her departure from North Korea in stark terms.
Imangap was created, its producers state, to nurture the integration of North Korean refugees into South Korean society. As such, it has been a minor hit in South Korea, and also the object of a degree of Western media coverage.
Sino-NK Co-editor Christopher Green and Dr. Stephen Epstein of Victoria University of Wellington have been unpacking the importance of Imangap in Korean society, asking how “Now on My Way to Meet You” is to be understood within the context of South Korea’s evolving multiculturalism, its world-famous screen culture, and developments in South Korean media representations of North Koreans.
Offering a taster of the the research results to come, Christopher Green will be speaking at the Years of Radical Change: Korean Screen Culture conference on Saturday, June 1 at 11:30AM. The conference, which takes place at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, starts on Friday, May 31, at 9AM.
More information, including a full conference schedule, is available here.
UPDATE: Sino-NK analyst Nicolas Levi will also be speaking at the Years of Radical Change: Korean Screen Culture conference on Saturday, June 1 at 11:30AM. The abstract for Dr. Levi’s presentation follows:
Kim Jong-il: A Film Director Who Ran a Country
Kim Jong-il (1942-2011), the former leader of North Korea, was not only the “Dear Leader:” he was also known as a fan of cinema. He especially recognized film’s potential for propaganda, and as such he organized the kidnapping of South Korea’s most famous film director (Shin Sang-ok), wrote several treatises on cinema, and had a huge private collection of videos and DVDs. Kim understood how cinema can affect the ordinary Korean citizen and the image of North Korea abroad (“He taught that film must concentrate on the message of the revolution, and must tell about the real lives of the Koreans. He wanted that all films must be made according to the North Korean ideology”). In short, cinema was a key-element in his ruling strategy.
Christopher Green and Nicolas Levi will be joined on Saturday by Dr. Mark Morris of the University of Cambridge, who will be discussing the 1958 Franco-North Korean film “Moranbong.” The panel will be chaired by Xiaoning Lu of SOAS.