Goodbye Mr. Kim
The film Goodbye Mr. Kim is an autobiographical narrative based on my experience intertwined with the death of two North Korean leaders.
In 1994, when Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea, suddenly died, I was a junior high school student in my school. The news came in through the speakers in the classroom, announcing that all students must leave the school immediately. Later I learned that the South Korean government put all Korean military forces on the highest alert as a contingency plan. I also learned that many soldiers in the army at that time were ordered to write a will.
In 2012, I was a first-year graduate student in the United States, visiting my family in South Korea for the first time since my arrival in the US in 2008. Just like the year 1994, Kim Jung Il, the leader of North Korea, suddenly died, and this time I was at a hospital for my regular check-up. I remember people gathering around the TV intently watching the breaking news with grim faces. No sooner had I fully grasped the gravity of this sudden news than I received an ominous notification from the Korean Army informing me that I might be drafted if something happened.
Having been born into a country that has been technically at war for more than 50 years, I am very conscious of my vulnerability to the uncertainty of life. I am keenly aware that numerous lives are bound to political circumstances, and this uncertainty and vulnerability are deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness of Korean society.
Through the film, I tell the viewer my lived experience to illuminate how the lives of individuals are interlaced with social, political, and historical conditions in society.