In a Foreign Country: the 120th Anniversary of Korean Emigration
On December 22, 1902, a ship left Jemulpo Port in Incheon. 121 Koreans were on board. They must have been scared and anxious. However, they must have had dreams and resolutions for a better future. Hawaii, an unfamiliar island, was the place where the people of the Korean Empire in the ship arrived, crossing the Pacific Ocean while turning their backs on Incheon for their own reasons. This was the first emigration in Korean history. The 10th Diaspora Film Festival “Diaspora in Focus” has prepared “In a Foreign Country,” a special screening section to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Korean emigration to reflect on the identity of Incheon, the City of Diaspora.
The reason for the diaspora is clear. We move to survive. To make ends meet and to dream of a better life, we cross mountains and seas. Immigration is a social phenomenon a lot of modern people have already experienced. Many of them must be remembering the ‘Aunt in America’ or the ‘Uncle in the Middle East’ when they were children. The gifts from the relatives who had emigrated showed a strange, unfamiliar, and successful image. However, not everyone is given a happy ending. Some emigrations or immigrations end in tragedy. Those who fail to adapt to the new world are often left behind. They come back like a runaway to their hometown, but it is not what it used to be. Life in an unfamiliar hometown is also formidable. A diaspora leads to another diaspora. And now there are people moving to Korea dreaming of a better future or success. The concept of ‘Korean people’ is being dismantled.
In “Diaspora in Focus” in 2022, we look at our immigration or emigration experiences, respectively. What is like the light and shade ‘in a foreign country?’ What is the joy and sadness ‘in a foreign country?’ And what is life like ‘in the more foreign-like country’ here after coming back from ‘a foreign country?’