The Value of Autobiographical Memory in Media Advocacy Campaign_1

A Case Study of Crowdfunding: the Campaign for the film “Sprits’ Homecoming” in South Korea 

 

“Bottom-up memories began to replace top-down historiography since World War One” (Kim 2014, p.85).

A new movie “Spirits’ Homecoming”, directed by Cho Jung-Lae, was released in South Korea on February 2016, drew 2.21 million viewers by March. This film is not only considered as an art form, but also a media campaign since the movie production was funded by more than 70,000 Korean citizens through crowdfunding. The film was based on the testimony of comfort women, their memory mediated through art drawings, and by the film itself. This campaign constitutes a meaningful process, shaping the cultural memory of Korea in relation to the comfort women issue.

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About the Movie

The movie was directed by Cho Jung-Lae who is an indie movie director. He typically directs movies related to minority or Korean culture. His previous movie includes “Duresori” which is about students who study and practice traditional music in Korea. His documentary, “Youths on Feet: A Great Journey to Our Nation” also shows his passion towards the Korean peninsula and the people of Korea. 

The film “Sprits’ Homecoming” was produced based on a true story of one comfort woman in Korea, Kang Il-Chul. According to her statement, teenage Korean girls were forcibly taken by the Imperial Japanese Army to be sex slaves for them during the 1940s.

Kang Il-Chul is portrayed as one character, Jung-Min in the film. Jung-Min is an innocent and clumsy teenage girl, an ordinary girl living in the 1940s. She lives with her father and mother, peacefully thinking of getting married to someone in the future. One day, some Japanese policemen take her away from her family and put her in a car with a bunch of teenage girls. She arrives somewhere in China, and starts to work as a sex slave for the Japanese armed forces.

In the meantime, there is a character named Eun-Kyung who lives in the twentieth first century. Her father is murdered while he tries to save her from a burglar. Since then, she develops a mental disorder, and her mother takes her to meet a female shaman. The shaman finds out Eun-Kyung can talk to dead souls. One day, Eun-Kyung sees Jung-Min’s soul and her life as a sex slave.

Jung-Min and the other girls are saved by Korean independence armed forces when they are about to die. However, Jung-Min dies when she is shot by a Japanese. Eun-Kyung consoles the ghost of Jung-Min to make her spirit come back home. The movie shows how the teenage girls’ tragic experiences, as it was without any human rights or dignity, their bodies only for the purpose of war and the militarism. 

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