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Image, Stories, and Silences of North Korean “Ex-Returnees” Soni Kum artist talk

Friday, April 2, 2021 at 10:00am to 11:30am

Virtual Event

Image, Stories, and Silences of “Ex-Returnees” Who Defected from North Korea to Japan: Artist Talk with Soni Kum

Kum will discuss her installation work, Morning Dew-The Stigma of Being "Brainwashed" exhibited in Tokyo in November 2020. It is based on interviews conducted with North Korean ex-“returnees”  now living in Tokyo. Most are zainichi Koreans (“ethnic Koreans resident in Japan”) or their children, who from 1959 to 1984 moved to North Korea as part of the Repatriation Program. They thought the DPRK was ‘a paradise on earth,’ only to experience the severe living conditions of North Korea’s recovery from the Korean War.  They are compelled to hide the fact that they left, or fled from, North Korea, or experience discrimination and other troubling consequences. Facing these fears of her interviewees, Kum’s work weaves together archival images, text, and silences to artistically evoke their hidden stories.

Discussants include Brett de Bary, Professor Emerita, Cornell, and Rebecca Jennison, Art Critic, Kyoto, Japan.

This event is co-sponsored by the Central New York Humanities Corridor from an award by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  This event is also co-sponsored by the Migrations initiative and the Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS).

The event image is from the installation named, 'Morning Dew-the stigma of being brainwashed'.  To learn more about artist Soni Kum, please visit her website:

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