In Toronto 4/15: The Politics of Aesthetics with filmmaker Heung-Soon Im


I’ll be interpreting tomorrow for artist and filmmaker Heung-Soon Lim whose documentary film Factory Complex 위로공단 (2004) won the prestigious Silver Lion at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Describing it as a chronicle of South Korean women’s labour, Im dedicated the film to women workers like his own mother and sister. The evocative and beautiful film features young women workers in state-sponsored garment factory complexes in the 1960s and 70s that drove much of South Korea’s export-oriented rapid industrialization. The women didn’t just work day and night; they also resisted against brutal working conditions and organized unions, facing violent state repression and even torture. The long struggle of Kiryung Electronics workers, layoff of Homever workers, leukemia among Samsung workers, and so many others — this history continues today for women workers in a variety of service and manufacturing sectors. The film takes us beyond Korea, too, traveling to Vietnam, Myanmar, and Cambodia and drawing compelling connections to the role of South Korean capital and their collusion with state repression in Southeast Asia.

Im conducted over 65 interviews and included 22 of them in the film. The film is in Korean and Khmer with English subtitles, and the lecture and Q&A discussion will be conducted in both English and Korean. I have done quite a bit of consecutive interpretation over the years, mostly for artists, activists, and academics, and I find it very gratifying to to help brilliant and articulate Korean speakers shine and communicate with the audience without being hindered by a language barrier.

The lecture and reception will take place tomorrow on Friday, April 15 at 3pm at the University of Toronto (free event). Please RSVP. Film screening is later that day at Royal Cinema at 7pm. Ticket information can be found on the Images Festival site.

Ah, and of course. April 16 is the second anniversary of the Sewol Ferry disaster. At the same time as Factory Complex on Friday night is a Christian commemorative prayer service at the North York Civic Center. On Saturday afternoon at 2pm, a rally will take place again in North York. I won’t be able to attend the service, obviously because of the film, but plan to be there for the Saturday rally.