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July 2009

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Updates and Announcements

July 25, 2009 at 4pm: Come to the Armistice Commemorative Event, “UNLEARN WAR – PROLIFERATE PEACE” at International Action Center, 55 West 17th Street, 5th Floor (Between 5th & 6th Avenue). This event is mainly organized by our summer interns (see below updates). To commemorate July 27, the date of the signing of the Korean War Armistice in 1953, a seminar and a free concert will be held to increase public awareness for the necessity of a Peace Treaty in Korea. Come, enjoy food and music while lending an ear to our message for peace!

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Nodutdol’s Summer Interns & Peace Treaty Campaign

by Grace Park

This summer, Nodutdol is proud to have three young women in an 8-week internship program led by four Nodutdol members. As part of the National Coalition to End the Korean War, the interns launched a Peace treaty blog called “Unlearn War, Proliferate Peace” on July 2, 2009. This will be a public blog of personal testimonies, current news, multimedia, and creative arts about information and subjects related to the Koreas with an emphasis on the Peace Treaty Campaign.

Along with the blog, they are also working on a Peace Treaty toolkit which will include tools for the public to create their own Peace Treaty organizations, information on the peace treaty, outreach strategies, and how to facilitate workshop sessions.

There will also be an event on July 25, 2009 to commemorate the signing of the armistice on July 27, 1953. Information for this event will be forthcoming so please save the date!
The Nodutdol interns would like to thank the Nodutdol community and members for making this internship a success as well as the financial contributions that were given to aid this program.

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Nodutdol Members Dig DEEP to Raise Funds

by Andy Marra

Despite the rainy weather, Nodutdol members and supporters came together on Saturday, June 20th to raise funds for the 2009 delegation traveling to the DPRK in July. Ten dollars was the suggested donation to gain entry to a Chinese-Indian buffet while a fully stocked cash bar provided additional funds to support the upcoming trip. The fundraiser was organized by DEEP participants that spent six months in preparation for their trip to the DPRK.

DEEP is a Nodutdol educational program that provides participants with comprehensive seminars related to the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Through critical analysis of policy, media and law, DEEP aims to debunk the sensationalism and fallacies found in U.S. policies and media coverage. Some of the seminar topics include Korean history, Inter-Korean relations, the Korean Reunification movement and current events and political developments impacting Korean peace and security.

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Contextualizing the Race for City Council

by B. Yoon

With John Liu running for City Comptroller, two Korean Americans are running for his vacant seat, along with three other non-Korean Americans. One of the Korean American candidates, John Choe, is a founding and former member of Nodutdol for Korean Community Development. This is the latest event in the increasing visibility of Korean Americans in mainstream politics, and knowledge of history and context is crucial to be able to critically analyze this phenomenon and participate in a constructive manner.

Political campaigns often become sites of contestation over definitions, history, classifications. Often, these types of situations lay bare issues that have remained dormant and unaddressed within a community. This race is no exception, and once John Choe announced his candidacy, Nodutdol and John Choe were inevitably linked in the media. Didn’t he go to North Korea? Doesn’t Nodutdol run a program to go to North Korea? Isn’t he/Nodutdol pro-North?

On some level, none of this is surprising. The impulse to categorize, classify, and divide is natural. We have the Civil Rights Era, the Renaissance, the Middle Ages. When dealing with these types of temporal classifications, however, it is easy to create the illusion of decisive shifts, of moments that have beginnings, middles, and ends. And so with history, conventional understanding has it that the Cold War was a moment in time that had the requisite beginning, middle, and end. Conventional understanding also has it that the Cold War was a successful war scenario with minimal loss of life, the best possible outcome in the context of the inexorable conflict defined as one between freedom (capitalism) and oppression (international communism). But this was not the lived experience of many in the Third World.

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Film Review #1: Go Go 70s (directed by Choi Ho)

by Andy Marra

Subway Cinema's New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF)

South Korean history in the 1970’s is colored by a ruthless military dictatorship, its obsession with economic development and growing social unrest. The decade was ushered in by Park Chung Hee’s stifling conservatism that readily churned out government propaganda to shepherd the masses and worked quickly to silence anything – or anyone – deemed subversive. Despite the Park regime’s heavy hand, it feared losing control due to outside cultural influences especially from its U.S. allies and their military presence.

And this is the backdrop of “Go Go 70s”, a Choi Ho film that tells the true story of how soul music conquered a repressed Seoul. The film opens with riveting propaganda (you can sample some here and here) praising the “New Village Movement” and South Korea’s singular focus to achieve economic dominance. We are then introduced to San-Gyu (Jo Seung-Woo) and Man-Sik (Cha Seung-Woo) that play country songs for American G.I.s in a drunken stupor. Their frustration with playing lifeless country tunes is paired with a passion for soul music brought over by African-American troops.

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Film Review #2: Breathless (directed by Yang Ik-June)

by Sukjong Hong

Subway Cinema's New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF)

Violence - state violence, police violence – was already on my mind when I went to watch “Breathless,” a film from first-time feature director Yang Ik-June that screened at the New York Asian Film Festival. Just that morning, I had gotten an email from a young documentary filmmaker in South Korea, in which she wrote, “Everyday the tension here feels like we’re walking at the tip of a knife.” For her, the Korean government’s clampdown on freedom of expression and on progressive media greatly intensified the sense of social crisis. In fact, after I watched Breathless, I read that director-writer-star Yang himself struggled with what so many independent filmmakers have long seen as a form of censorship - the ratings system, which rated his film for those 19 years old and up.

“Breathless” did in fact knock the breath out of me in its unrelenting depiction of violence. After all, the main character, Sang-hoon (played by Yang himself), is a “debt-collector” of the high-interest, high-brutality variety, who returns payments to his gang boss with blood on his knuckles. Beginning in the dawn hours, trailed by young apprentices who startle at his every move, he trawls the steep neighborhoods or dal-dongnae of the urban poor to extort payments. As he opens the door, out of the corner of the screen, as if out the corner of our eyes, we see his fist coming, the boots rising. By the time we see it, it is too late. Neither Sang-hoon nor his trainees are satisfied after just one kick. One kick always leads to another, and another, building to a reckless frenzy that pushes his victims to the brink of death. But these are also “victims,” who, only moments before, are seen pummeling their wives in front of their screaming children.

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The article "Who Killed Roh Moo Hyun?" which appeard in the May 2009 e*News had a couple of misstated facts. Roh Moo Hyun did graduate from high school. He did not attend a university but passed the bar exam and became a lawyer. About 500,000 people attended Roh's funeral in Seoul, not 5 million. Some 5 million South Koreans however did come out to pay respects to the late ex-president at various commemoration ceremonies held throughout the country during the first 7 days following his death.

About Nodutdol eNews

Nodutdol eNews is the monthly e-mail newsletter of Nodutdol.Through grassroots organization and community development, Nodutdol seeks to bridge divisions created by war, nation, gender, sexual orientation, language, classes and generation among Koreans and to empower our community to address the injustice we and other people of color face here and abroad. Nodutdol works in collaboration with other progressive organizations locally, nationally and internationally as part of a larger movement for peace and social change.

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