From Rubens to Viktor Tsoi: Conceiving an Archive of the Korean Diaspora


Thursday, April 18, 2013, 4:00pm to 6:00pm


Porté Seminar Room (S250), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Kim Koo Forum on Korea Current Affairs jointly sponsored with the Harvard Asia Center

Y. David Chung, Professor, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan; Kim Koo Visiting Professor, Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, Harvard University

Born in Bonn, Germany, and educated in the United States, Y. David Chung is an acclaimed visual artist and filmmaker known for his films, multi-media installations, drawings, prints, and public artworks. Prof. Chung’s documentary film, Koryo Saram, co-directed with Matt Dibble, won the Best Documentary Award from the National Film Board of Canada. He has been commissioned to design permanent artwork for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority and the New York City Public Art Program. His work has been exhibited at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Asia Society, Walker Arts Center, Wadsworth Atheneum, Gwangju Bienniale, Tretyakov Gallery of Art (Moscow), and in a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, to name a few.

Prof. Chung’s work is currently on view at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History’s Korea Gallery. He has been commissioned to design and install permanent artwork for the Rosslyn Metro Station, VA and the New York City Public Art Program. Prof. Chung has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Fellowship in New Genres, the Washington Mayor’s Art Award, the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Fund-Artist at Giverny Fellowship, two Artslink Collaborative Projects Fellowships (Kazakhstan), the Rosebud Best of Show Film and Video Award (with Matt Dibble), and the Michigan Faculty Fellowship at the Institute for the Humanities. This coming summer, Prof. Chung will have co-instructed the Harvard Summer School-Korea program’s course on film and filmmaking in Korea with Harvard faculty for three years.

Chaired by Haden Guest, Director, Harvard Film Archive

Almost 6.8 million Koreans live outside their home country. Whether driving a taxi in Sao Paolo, growing cabbages in Almaty, writing songs in Moscow, operating dry-cleaning shops in Los Angeles, or running bulgogi taco trucks in D.C., Koreans can be found around the world. Large Korean communities are located in China, Japan, the former Soviet Union, Southeast Asia, South America and the United States. However, in comparison with other diasporas comprising Jewish, Chinese, African, or Armenian peoples, the dispersal of the Korean population is a relatively modern occurrence that traces back only to the mid-nineteenth century. Koreans left their homeland both voluntarily and by forcible removal due to poor farming conditions, famine, colonialism and political persecution. After independence from Japan in 1945, many Koreans returned to take part in building the new nation, while many thousands of others elected to remain in their adopted countries. New waves of emigration were spurred by war, dictatorship and economic instability. Until recently, little has been researched or documented about the lives of these diasporic Koreans. What political and economic alliances did they form while living abroad? How were Korean traditions of life, including language and religious beliefs, maintained or assimilated into the host culture and what were the other challenges faced by the Korean diaspora? David Chung will outline the ideas behind conceiving an archive of the Korean diaspora and the urgency of documenting those with living memories of their displacement or emigration.

The Korea Institute acknowledges the generous support of the Kim Koo Foundation.