1881 East-West Road | Honolulu, Hawaii 96822

About the Series

The Korean Diaspora

In celebration of the 110th anniversary of Korean immigration to Hawaii, the Center for Korean Studies spring film series features documentary and feature films that reflect Korean immigrant experience, history, and identity in North America.


Film screenings take place in the Center for Korean Studies auditorium at 1881 East-West Road on the University of Hawai'i Mānoa campus and begin at 6:30 p.m. Korean films are shown with English subtitles. This series is free and open to all University of Hawai'i students, faculty, and staff and to the community at large. The series is supported by the Timothy and Miriam Wee Memorial Fund at the Center for Korean Studies.

For further information about the film series, contact the Center for Korean Studies at (808) 956-7041 or Professor Young-a Park (yapark@hawaii.edu) at (808) 956-6387.

Spring 2013 Film Series: The Korean Diaspora

January 29

Arirang: The Korean American Journey

2003. Directed by Tom Coffman. 111 minutes.

photo: field workers


Arirang: The Korean American Journey is a two-part documentary prepared for the 2003 centennial celebration of the beginning of Korean immigration to the Hawaiian Islands. The film begins with an exploration of why more than seven thousand Koreans left their strife-torn homeland to start new lives on the sugar plantations of Hawaii between 1903 and 1905. As they arrived in Hawaii, Japan was absorbing Korea and attempting to eradicate the Korean language and culture. The immigrants organized around the cause of Korean independence even while they were sinking roots into a new home. Even as they achieved success in American terms, they kept the idea of an independent Korea alive throughout Japan's thirty-five years of colonial occupation of the peninsula. In its second part, the film explores the renewal of migration as a result of the Korean War and subsequent changes in U.S. immigration law. After 1970, the Korean-American population expanded rapidly, growing to more than one million today. This is a story about distances and contrasts: from Seoul to New Jersey; from storekeeper to Harvard graduate; and from devastating riots of 1992 to a heightened involvement in the American scene.

February 19

The Grace Lee Project

2005. Directed by Grace Lee. 68 minutes.

poster image


When Korean-American filmmaker Grace Lee was growing up in Missouri, she was the only Grace Lee she knew. When she moved to New York and Califomia, however, everyone she met seemed to know "another Grace Lee." And they all seemed to assume that all Grace Lees were nice, piano-playing bookworms. In this film, Lee plunges into a clever, highly unscientific investigation into all those Grace Lees who fit the stereotype and those who don't. They range from multitalented overachievers to an eighty-eight-year-old activist to a rebel who tried to bum down her high school. The Grace Lee Project puts a humorous spin on the question "What's in a name?"

March 14

Wedding Palace

2013. Directed by Christine Yoo. 98 minutes. Hawaii Premiere.

image from Wedding Palace


Jason is a twenty-nine-year-old Los Angeles advertising executive being pressured by family and friends to wed before his thirtieth birthday in order to avoid an ancient curse placed on his family. A shaman (played by Margaret Cho) warns that if he does not do so, he will certainly die a horrible death. On a short business trip to Seoul, Jason encounters what would seem to be the woman of his dreams. Back at home, he decides to court the woman, Na Young, on line, including dinner dates via webcam, telephone calls, and text messages. But when Na Young comes to Los Angeles, Jason and his family discover that she is not what they expected. Can Jason defy his parents and bridge the gap between family expectations of beauty and true love? Can virtual dating really lead to true love and lifetime happiness? Wedding Palace is the debut film of director Christine Yoo and is being shown here for the first time in Hawai'i. Note: This film will be shown in the Art Department auditorium (Art 132). Director Christine Yoo will attend the screening.

April 2

Wet Sand: Voices from L.A.

1996. Directed by Dai sil Kim-Gibson. 60 minutes.


image from Wet Sand


In this documentary, filmmaker Dai Sil Kim-Gibson explores the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Her groundbreaking 1993 documentary Sa-I-Gu remains one of the crucial texts offering a Korean American perspective on the events surrounding the riots. In Wet Sand, she revisits Los Angeles to learn what changes have occurred since then, only to discover that living conditions have deteriorated and that few remedies have been administered to the communities most stricken. Through interviews with a multi-ethnic set of firsthand witnesses, this follow-up investigation probes deeper into the racial and economic issues that not only shaped the climate of 1992 Los Angeles, but continue to affect Americans today.

April 16

Late Autumn (만추)

2011. Directed by Kim Tae-yong, 113 minutes.


photo from Late Autumn


Anna, an immigrant from China, has been in prison for seven years for killing her abusive husband, who was jealous over her meeting her former boyfriend. When Anna's mother dies, she is given a 72-hour furlough to attend the funeral. On the bus to Seattle, she meets a young Korean man, Hoon, who turns out to be a gigolo on the run from a powerful businessman who wants to kill him for having an affair with his Korean wife. Hoon and Anna share three days together before she must return to prison and he is ensnared in the businessman's scheme to blame him for his wife's murder. This film, starring one of Korea's top actors, Hyun Bin, is the latest of several remakes—this one reset in America—of Lee Man-hee's now lost 1966 film, Manch'u.