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Korea's Film Focuses on Migrant Issues

2009/06/26 | 566 views | Permalink | Source

Despite the fact that many migrant diasporas remain largely on the fringes of Korean society, it doesn't prevent them from make their own cinematic footprints. "Bandhobi" directed by Sin Dong-il ("Host and Guest") brings together 2 characters that would normally be unlikey to mix. Karim a Bangladeshi migrant worker and a Min-Seo a female school girl form a very special friendship amongst an indifferent world. Although the film deals with significant issues such as the plight of immigrant workers, racism, poverty and the inequality of Korea's stress laden education system, director SHIN presents a light hearted journey into these problematic realms.

Karim, played by Mahbub Alam Pollob, a Bangladeshi Academic, comes to Korea with hopes of a better life but is exposed to its stark reality. At the same time Min-seo, played by Baek Jin-hee is a loud, obnoxious teenager who has concerns other than worrying about a fair society. Both are forced however even further into their problematic plights in the search for an income. Min-seo who needs money to pay for the highly coveted prize of attending an English academy starts to work in a massage parlour. Karim in the meantime is forced to knock on doors in search of his former boss who cheated him out of his pay. These two unlikely characters then come together to form a unique relationship.

That this film features a migrant worker playing a migrant worker in a lead role is of no small significance. There are a million foreigners in Korea yet many, especially those not teaching English or working in large companies, remain largely sidelined. "Bandhobi" follows the lead of other diaspora communities around the world exploiting cinema to realize the plight of migrants. The Indian community in London is a good example of this after its international success with films like Bend it like Beckham (2002) and delving even further, exposing issues regarding gay Indians in London with A Touch of Pink (2004). In addition, in Korea amongst the plethora of film festivals, whole programmes are being dedicated to humanitarian and other issues based films. Such festivals include The Migrant Film Festival, The Human Rights Festival, The Green Film Festival in Seoul, The Women's Film Festival and The Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

"Bandhobi" distributed by Indiestory, will open in Korea on June 25.

David Oxenbridge (KOFIC)

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