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The Citizen

“Divided Families”: The Story of Separated Korean Families

divided famliesJieun, could you tell us more about your film Divided Families?  What inspired you to produce the film?

This documentary tells the story of Korean families who have been separated since the Korean War. While most media coverage focus on divided families between North and South Korea, there hasn’t been much focus on divided families who live in North Korea and the United States. After being separated, many South Koreans immigrated to the USA and have had to resort to shady options to attempt to connect with their families in North Korea. This film addresses this narrative, and the human stories that comprise this part of world history.

We understand that you have focused on Korean affairs for some time. How did your studies and work at HKS prepare you for this project? 

I joined this project before coming to HKS. I met the directors when I was at Harvard College, and joined the team in 2009. At HKS, I spent a lot of time studying NK from different angles and not divided families. However, all these topics center on the same central issue of a need to open up North Korea and integrate them into the global community.

Tell us more about your upcoming event – what should attendees expect?

The Korea Institute at the Harvard Government Department is generously hosting this event. Professor Carter Eckert will be speaking at the event, and after the screening, Dr. Jason Ahn and I will field a few questions. I really hope to see you all there!

What is the goal of the film project?

There are two main goals of this project. Firstly, our team hopes to use this as an awareness-raising tool to build social and political pressure on relevant organizations and governments to allow for divided families in the USA and North Korea to meet. Keep in mind that most of these people are in their late 80s or so. Secondly, we hope that the film itself gives the divided family members a little bit of hope as they continue to search for ways to meet with their families in North Korea. Many have told me that even if they are unable to meet their families in this lifetime, they’re certain that they’ll meet their families in Heaven. I pray that the hope and optimism that these divided family members have held onto for so long will be reinvigorated by this film.