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Sunday, July 5, 2020

'Jeronimo' and beyond

Frankly, 'Jeronimo' should be screened in every Korean high school. I'm not saying that because the director, Joseph JUHN, happens to be a friend - his documentary deservedly received awards and critical acclaim, and even praise from the President in Cheong Wa Dae. 'Jeronimo' has a rare power to move and to change people, starting with Joseph himself, as he kept discovering new layers of a very rich character, and of the wonderful Korean diaspora in Cuba.

You may not have watched the documentary yet, or even heard of Jeronimo Lim, so I won't give any spoilers. Know that there's everything; between History (slavery, independence, revolution etc), his story, their love story, and so much more.

I saw how 'Jeronimo' moved and impacted diverse audiences in different contexts, not just here, and not just Koreans - be they from this or that side of the DMZ, of multicultural background, or from different parts of the Korean diaspora. Because this is not just about the Korean identity (koreanity? koreanness? koreanhood?), and certainly not about nationalism, to the contrary! Beyond this touching community, beyond the longing and belonging, this is about humanity, inclusive, universal kinship.

Even after five screenings, I'm always moved. And now I almost see Jeronimo Lim, Cheon-taek, Patricia, Nelsonito, and all the others as family.

In Paris, after a screening on Joseph's European tour, in the new Centre Culturel Coreen, we could see people from very different nationalities in the audience feel a personal connection, an echo to their own families.

I believe this documentary should be screened in every Korean high school because it can change in a very positive manner the way Koreans consider not only their own diaspora, but the diasporas they don't even suspect exist in Korea**.

"#Jeronimo's international tour in #Paris - screening at the new #CentreCulturelCoreen. Always a pleasure,  #JosephJuhn!
#헤로니모" (20200220 - @theseoulvillage -
The other day in Insadong, at KOTE***, Joseph JUHN gave a talk about the Korean diasporas of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Diasporas that, in the States, are on the streets to support #BlackLivesMatter, 28 years after the L.A. riots. Doing the right thing 31 years after Spike Lee's movie. Diasporas ready to become agents of positive change, within their communities and beyond. 

So (re)watch 'Jeronimo' on YouTube (, on Vimeo, or on your PPV platform (and check the website:

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** not to mention the diasporas some of them don't want to start existing - see the sad episode of the Yemeni refugees, when hundreds of thousands petitioned for their expulsion, but also when more than  a few demonstrated to defend their rights.

*** Note that the first 'KOTE Dialog' honored another gifted friend, documentary photographer Harry CHUN. Come to think of it, I first met Joseph and Harry the same year, in 2016. Joseph was about to return to Cuba for his documentary, and Harry was planning a different kind of emotional journey, embarking with refugees on their way to and across Europe. Harry exhibited some of his stunning works at Sejong Cultural Center a few weeks ago (for the World Refugee Day Photograph Exhibition with UNHCR and UPI). Here too, a powerful mirror for everyone because each one of us can become a refugee tomorrow, and a particularly needful one in a nation that doesn't welcome many refugees.

#HarryChun #vernissage @ #SejongCenter. #세계난민사진전 #난민 #refugees
#harrychungphotography'' (20200617 -

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