In recent weeks, news about the Korean peninsula have taken a dramatic turn with hour-by-hour alerts of North-South goodwill and even unprecedented North-US diplomacy. My heart flutters at the idea that a permanent peace agreement could actually result in my place of birth after 6+ decades of unresolved conflict, the last remaining of the Cold War.
At the same time, let us not forget that only a matter of months ago, experts were estimating the probability of preventive war with North Korea to be as high as 25% to 70%. In America and much of the world, mass discourse on the Korean “situation” is pitifully one-dimensional: military, nothing else. In reality, countless Koreans like 9at38’s subject Hyungjoon Won and myself have families divided now for 7 decades and counting. It is prohibited for citizens of either Koreas to attempt any form of communication across the border. It is why Hyungjoon chose Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 for the joint performance: “Thy magic reunites those Whom stern custom has parted All men will become brothers."
Is there any hope to see the human, rather than military, aspect of the Korean situation? We humbly believe our film ‘9at38’ can -- and by viewer reactions, already does -- play a role. Hyungjoon's story can set off a domino effect. It challenges the notion of manmade division anywhere. It inspires meaningful pursuits and dreams by the average citizen. And if nothing else, it calls to reduce tension for just one evening, with bows pointed to the sky instead of guns, in what is said to be the most militarized border in the world.