Departure and repatriation as Cold War dissensus : Domestic ethnography in Korean documentary

Jinhee PARK*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines autobiographic documentaries about families that expose "dissensus" in the mapping of transborder migration and diasporic desire that were the results of the Cold War in North Korea, South Korea, and Japan. Jae-hee Hong (dir. My Father's Emails) and Yong-hi Yang (dir. Dear Pyongyang and Goodbye Pyongyang) document the ongoing Cold War in their fathers' histories through their position as a "familial other," who embodies both dissensus and intimacy. Hong reveals that anticommunism in South Korean postwar nation building reverberated in the private realm. Yang documents her Zainichi father, who sent his sons to North Korea during the Repatriation Campaign in Japan. The anticommunist father in South Korea (Hong's) and the communist father in Japan (Yang's) engendered family migration with contrasting motivations, departure from and return to North Korea, respectively. Juxtaposing these two opposite ideologies in family histories, as well as juxtaposing the filmmakers' dissonance with the given ideologies in domestic space, provide the aesthetic form for "dissensus." The politics of aesthetics in domestic ethnography manifests in that the self and the Other are inextricably interlocked because of the reciprocity of the filmmaker and the communist or anticommunist subject.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-457
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Korean Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Autobiography
  • Cold War
  • Diaspora
  • Dissensus
  • Korean documentary


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