Tell us about your experience of visiting the Civilian Control Zone beside the DMZ? What did you learn?
To my generation who have never experienced war, North Korea is no more than a landscape filmed by foreign nationals who can visit there. When I was invited to an exhibition on North Korea commemorating the 70th anniversary of National Independence at the Seoul Museum of Art in 2015, I thought that I had no choice but to speak with what I saw and experienced firsthand, away from superficial images. At the time, I was learning to play the accordion in a band with my friends. The accordion teacher was around my age and had defected from North Korea. Life in North Korea was vividly depicted through the stories of that friend. Based on such experiences, Early Arrival of Future was created. I wanted to speak about the dialogues I had and senses I experienced firsthand. The same goes for the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). I wanted to start by looking directly at this problematic space that exists in reality but cannot be easily visualised, one that also exists inside but remains outside.
Attempts to look at the summer in the DMZ were not easy. I requested information and asked for ways to access the area from expert researchers in inter-Korean exchanges and cultures, environmental groups that study the ecosystem of the DMZ, and curators who worked on projects related to the DMZ. Even filming was not easy, so the filming team had a hard time. Under a tight schedule, I was able to see the border from inside the Civilian Control Line. The border area was filled with tension, and there were armed soldiers and signs everywhere warning landmines. The blazing greenery seen from a distance, that I was barely allowed to be in, was overwhelming. This ironic space that exists inside but does not allow its inside, brimming with tension but putting on a calm face, took me into a whirlpool for a moment. While division has already become a part of daily life and the tensions of the conflict and division only exist in the media, they still exist in the field. At the same time, I was overtaken by the power of nature. In the midst of this still landscape, only the green ablazes, and a crane gliding across the border transforms a photograph into a video. To me, the landscape of the border is a twilight zone full of potential that shows the overwhelming vitality and power of nature while being a screen that overlaps and projects countless moments of hostility and hospitality attempted between the two Koreas. I am very curious to see what this landscape will show the audience on the street in a different place and context.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula near the 38th parallel north. The demilitarized zone (DMZ) is a border barrier that divides the Korean Peninsula roughly in half. It was established to serve as a buffer zone between the countries of North and South Korea under the provisions of the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953, an agreement between North Korea, China and the United Nations Command.
The DMZ is 250 kilometres (160 miles) long and about 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) wide. There have been various incidents in and around the DMZ, with military and civilian casualties on both sides. Within the DMZ is a meeting point between the two nations, where negotiations take place: the small Joint Security Area (JSA) near the western end of the zone.