Chan-Kyong Park is a media artist, filmmaker and curator based in Seoul. His subjects have extended from the Cold War to traditional Korean religious culture, from media-oriented memory to regional utopian imaginations. His films have been shown in several renowned international art institutions and, in 2014, he served as artistic director for the international media art biennial Media City Seoul.
Anyang, Paradise City is a feature length film by Park Chan-Kyong. One of its first scenes shows a group of women dancing the Korean folk dance Ganggangssullae. It is one of the oldest Korean rites and is traditionally performed on a summer night at full moon to guarantee a rich harvest later in the year. The dance was included in the programme of the opening ceremony at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. A symbolic ritual for Korean national identity, the dance was announced as an intangible cultural heritage. It is usually performed exclusively by women.
Park’s film tells a semi fictitious story of a group of filmmakers who research the case of a fire in a factory that happened in Anyang, on the outskirts of Seoul, in1988 — shortly before the Olympic Games. During the fire, 20 young women died because they were locked in the factory that also served as their dormitory. The young protagonists of Park’s film follow the traces of this incident to the present, where it is set.
With an eye on Korean heritage and its current situation, on the role of female workers within this history (as well as in a global context), and on the exploitation of traditions and neglect of valuable heritage, Park encounters the dualisms in Korean culture. His observations may sensitise us to the other, to the dual, and encourage ways to try and review our situation together. [Marie Egger]