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The 2013 Korean American Film Festival New York (KAFFNY), dedicated to the Korean War and North Korea, will celebrate its 7th year in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.  KAFFNY runs October 24th to 26th, 2013, and opens with the New York premiere of the feature-length documentary SEEKING HAVEN by Hein S. Seok.  Making its East Coast premiere on closing night is the feature film OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, the first U.S. – North Korean co-production by first-time screenwriter and producer Joon Bai, himself a Korean-American Korean War refugee, and directed by In Hak Jang. This film was entirely shot in North Korea, with a North Korean cast and crew.



(Oct 24, 8PM, Village East Cinema)

East Coast premiere: SEEKING HAVEN (China, Laos, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand 2012, 51″) Documentary directed by Hein Seok

23-year-old Youngsoon Kim, a North Korean defector living in South Korea, is trying to reunite with the family members she had left behind. In 2003, Youngsoon escaped from North Korea to China, where she lived in hiding for 5 years. Years later, discovering that her sister had been sentenced to a political prison camp in the North, Youngsoon returns to China. There she hires a smuggler and attempts to broker her sister’s freedom.


Documentary directed by Deann Borshay Liem and Ramsey Liem.

Conveys the human costs of military conflict through deeply personal accounts of the Korean War (1950-53) by four Korean-American survivors. Their stories take audiences through the trajectory of the war, from extensive bombing campaigns, to day-to-day struggle for survival and separation from family members across the DMZ. Decades later, each person reunites with relatives in North Korea, conveying beyond words the meaning of family loss. These stories belie the notion that war ends when the guns are silenced and foreshadow the future of countless others displaced by ongoing military conflict today.

With Short:


Short animation directed by Phillip Ahn

A portrait of an old dry-cleaners business in the outskirts of Chicago.



East Coast premiere: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN (Korea USA 2012, 102″)

Fiction feature directed by In Hak Jang, screenwriter and producer Joon Bai in attendance.

(Oct 26, 9PM, Village East Cinema)

During the Korean War, a young nurse in the small town of Chunamri, North Korea, saves a wounded soldier who has been left behind during battle. Brought together by the unfortunate circumstance of war, theirs is a fateful meeting. His identity is unknown to her until he must return to South Korea. With the promise to return, the nurse waits a lifetime for him. Separated by war and countries between them, the young man tries everything to get back to the North but diplomatic relations between countries made it impossible for their reunion. As the years go by and their youth slips away from them, he finally gets an unexpected opportunity to fulfill his wish and return to her. But reunions are not easy and after years apart, they are met with more tragedy.

With Short:

PEAK (USA 2013, 4″)

Short animation directed by Sonnye Lim

Why do you climb mountains, little dog?


(Oct 26, 12PM, Village East Cinema)

One of America’s earlier Korean transnationals, Hahn based herself of out of New York, starting out as a student. As she built her knowledge base and experience, Hahn began to curate film, music and arts programs to introduce Korean culture to America. Whereas many take for granted the popularity of Korean films in America today, Dong Sin Hahn was a pioneer, presenting the first US retrospectives of Kim Ki-Duk (2008), Im Kwon Taek (2004) and Shin Sang Ok (2002) in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art. With her youthful spirit, she touched the lives of many local and international artists, spanning generations, and she became an irreplaceable hub of the artistic community.

KAFFNY pays tribute to Dong Sin Hahn’s groundbreaking curatorial choices with a selection from her programs. This year we present Kim Ki-Duk’s Address Unknown in keeping with the Korean War program to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the armistice. This film screened at MoMA on Monday, April 28 and May 8, 2008.

ADDRESS UNKNOWN (Korea 2001, 117″),

Fiction feature directed by Kim Ki-Duk

One of Kim’s more hot-blooded and extravagantly brutal melodramas imagines a village, Pyongtaek, in the 1970s, where commerce is intricately bound to an American army base. A mother and son live in an abandoned bus, where she writes to the boy’s father, a black G.I., only to have the letters returned marked “address unknown.” Her lover is a man who butchers dogs, and her son is his reluctant assistant; the son’s acquaintances include a young girl blind in one eye, the girl’s beloved pet dog, and a very shy boy. Communication takes place mainly through violent action.


World premiere: FADING AWAY (USA 2013, 95″)

Documentary directed by Christopher H.K. Lee, filmmaker in attendance

(Oct 26, 430PM, Village East Cinema)

Never before told stories from a group of Korean War veterans and refugees through a series of insightful interviews and the use of rare historical film footage, photos and other archival material. These veterans and survivors share their stories in their own words with their sons, daughters and grandchildren with memories of catastrophe, fear, and the pains they vividly remember. The film is divided into seven parts, strung together and led by the powerful recollection of the journey of a thirteen year-old Korean War orphan who fled the North to the South as he recalls his memories and emotions of the war.

With short:


Short documentary directed by John Carstarphen

Susan Sponsler-Carstarphen is an internationally recognized artist, working in photography and mixed-media such as encaustic, fabric and other forms. Her work has been in the US Embassy in Panama and has shown in galleries from Seoul to Los Angeles. She currently works and lives in Texas, struggling to create work that challenges our perceptions of women and women-of-color.

This brief look at her life and work explores the influence of being a Korean-American adoptee on her work.

THE GIRL FROM THE SOUTH (Argentina, Korea 2012, 94″)

Documentary directed by Jose Luis Garcia.

(Oct 26, 645PM, Village East Cinema)

In 1989, José Luis García went with the Argentine delegation to a student festival in North Korea. García, who had just turned twenty-four, borrowed a VHS camera that joined him on his days of revolutionary tourism, recording the surrealistic landscape of that summer when North Korea opened its doors for the first time to thousands of young people from all over the world. The focus of his gaze changed when Lim Sukyung, a young activist, had come to Pyongyang representing the students of South Korea. Many years later, the pages of the internet began to toss out information about the fate of the “Flower of Reunification,” about her years in prison and other more banal news that was mixed with the death of her son and her reclusion for years in a Buddhist monastery. Shortly after Lim Sukyung reappeared in public life, the director contacted her by email and traveled to Seoul – with the objective of interviewing her.

With short:

5 PAR JOUR (France 2012, 5″)

Short fiction directed by Jun Cordon

A Korean baby, a hand, one Korean woman and a stewardess… she’s looking for something but what exactly?

OUR SON (USA 2013, 5″)

Short animation directed by Eric Ko

Celestial bodies and the fragility of happiness.


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