Kim Koo Forum
Followed by a discussion session with Jason Ahn (Director, Executive Producer) and Jieun Baek (Producer)
Moderated by Carter J. Eckert, Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History, Harvard University
About the Film:
When the border was drawn between North and South Korea, hundreds of thousands of family members were left divided. During the Korean War (1950-1953) even more families were dislocated in the chaos of war. Over 60 years have passed since then and many Koreans immigrated to the United States in search of peace and hope. There are an estimated 100,000 first generation Korean Americans with immediate family members in the North Korea. Many of the family members have already passed away, or are in their 70s-90s. Some have tried to contact their families through informal brokers, but this uncertain avenue has led many divided family members to become disillusioned. Though US Citizens, there are no formal mechanisms for family members in the United States to identify or even dream of reuniting with their families in North Korea. We hope that the film will raise awareness in the global community of this issue by documenting the stories of first generation Korean divided family members currently residing in the United States.
About the Directors & Producer:
Director, Executive Producer
While a Fulbright scholar to Korea, Jason Ahn became interested in divided families through Saemsori, an organization working towards formal family reunions between Korean Americans and Koreans living in North Korea. The necessity for a historical record of divided families and the power in showing stories through film inspired him to embark upon the Divided Families film. Jason is interested in the intersection of film and social change. In the future, he hopes to make a difference as a practitioner of global health and social medicine. He is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is currently an emergency medicine resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. He earned his BA from the University of California, Berkeley.
Director, Executive Producer
Eugene Chung is a director and executive producer of Divided Families. He is an investor and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Previously, Eugene worked in film production at Pixar Animation Studios, private equity at Warburg Pincus, and investment banking at Morgan Stanley. Eugene has written for The Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review, and he has been involved with a number of social enterprises and non-profits. He worked in the rural Philippines with Unitus, a global microfinance accelerator, and has been involved with humanitarian work in North Korea. He earned his BS degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar.
Jieun Baek is currently a Belfer Center fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where she is writing about information access in North Korea and wider regional security issues. She graduated from the Master in Public Policy program in May, 2014 from the Kennedy School, where she concentrated in International and Global Affairs, and wrote her thesis on the regional impacts of the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon. Before graduate school, she worked at Google Headquarters in sales, and on information access projects for North Korean defectors. Jieun studied Government at Harvard University for her Bachelors degree, where she founded a student organization called Harvard Undergraduates for Human Rights in North Korea (H-RiNK). Jieun hopes to work on US policy in North Korea and the greater East Asian region. Jieun was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. As a hobby, Jieun keeps a blog called "Inalienable"(www.jieunbaek.com).
The Korea Institute acknowledges the generous support of the Kim Koo Foundation.