The legacy of a father

Home > National >

print dictionary print

The legacy of a father

The author is a Tokyo correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Born in Mie Prefecture, Japan, there was a girl who grew up in Yokohama, a one-hour car ride from Tokyo. She has three older brothers and four younger sisters. Born in 1935 during the Japanese occupation of Korea, Park Su-nam works on films. She is the director of “The Silence,” a documentary about the victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese Army.

At age 87, she has limited mobility and uses a wheelchair. Her vision is not good, and her daughter, 54, accompanies her everywhere. Wherever she goes, Japanese far-right groups can often be seen following. Members of the hard-line groups come around to her house, monitoring her. Nevertheless, she acts as if the inconvenience means nothing to her and talked about her new film about forced labor victims.

What is the source of power for Park, nearing the end of her 80s? When I met her in Yokohama on June 3, though she spoke slowly, her Korean was clear, with a slight Gyeongsang dialect. She talked about her “father’s legacy.”

Park’s father is from Uiseong, North Gyeongsang. When he moved to Japan during the colonial days, he worked as a construction contractor. As he had built hamba, a dorm for Korean workers, many Koreans came to him looking for jobs. He used to gauge a guest’s living condition by their shoes, and most of the Korean visitors had bad shoes. After the liberation in 1945, forced laborers who were brought to work in coal mines and munitions factories and victims of the atomic bomb came to her father for a place to live. He used to offer his clothes and shoes for them.

Insisting that daughters also study, her father supported her through school. The money he earned from business he built in Japan became the funding for Park’s movies. You may expect opposition for making an unprofitable film, but her father offered his fortune and said, “It is valuable to do great work for the unification of Korea and fellow Koreans. That’s how money should be spent.” And that’s how her films about the stories of forced labor victims, Japanese wartime sexual slavery and victims of nuclear bombs were produced.

Park says some people criticize her for not seeing the future and talking about the past with resentment. But she is not concerned. She is driven by the mission from her father. She said many times, “When you know the history, Japan and Korea will have a better future.”

It’s been a month since the new administration launched in Korea. It wants to renew the cold Korea-Japan relations. Japan also shows some expectations. I hope the Yoon Suk-yeol administration remembers the story this old filmmaker has dedicated her whole life to tell.
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)