My Two Cents: Gook & The Battleship Island

In the time after completing a course and preparing for work on the site and my Korean class I saw two films: Gook by Justin Chon and The Battleship Island (군함도) by Ryoo Seung Wan. I figured I’d give my two cents—with little scholarly influence. I’ll save that for my scholarly blog (coming soon!).

Gook (released August 18, 2017) depicts a typical day in the life of two Korean-American brothers who own a struggling women’s shoe store and entertain their 11-year-old Black family friend that is turned upside down by the 1992 LA riots after the Rodney King verdict. Although there is distance from the riots in South Central (where my family resided during the riots) and no mention of tension between Black and Korean Americans due to the death of Latasha Harlins by Du Soon Ja, it tells a beautiful (and hilarious, thanks to David So) story of the camaraderie and tensions between various ethnic groups that juxtaposes the usual LA riots narrative that only deals with Black citizens and White cops. It also adds a perspective that is commonly left out: the Asian American one. What captured my heart the most was the teaching of the real meaning of gook (국), country, and how that related to the connection of two families seemingly distant from one another.

The Battleship Island (군함도, released August 4, 2017), tells the story of an attempted prison break from a forced coal-mining labor camp on Hashima Island during the Japanese occupation-era. Although the film is not all true (based on true accounts, though), it showcases the little known history of Hashima Island and the only recently discussed stories of comfort women in sexual slavery. The film forces all to look at the atrocities of many (not only those of Japanese descent) during this particular wartime, but also displays hope, camaraderie, and love in order to make it out.

What I love about both films

First off, I am a history buff. I enjoy learning and understanding how history influences the present. Another reason is influenced by two quotes:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana, philosopher and novelist

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

Dr. Maya Angelou, writer and activist

Both films display why we continue to see war films—especially those set during World War II—films about slavery in the United States, and films that depict little known or publicized histories (sometimes as biopics). I believe that Gook and The Battleship Island are wonderful examples of why films like them should be made.

Secondly, I love how both films dealt with the themes of displacement and home. Gook does this through its depiction of family and legacy from both immigrant and native perspectives in a store that serves as home for both but is being threatened by chaos caused by the riots. There is no protection of these youths’ dreams and futures outside of the little they can salvage with the help of one parental figure (Mr. Kim) and Jesus because of no police protection. The Battleship Island does this through actual displacement (rather, isolation) and the will to go on and fight because of a desire to return home. This desire bands many would-be strangers together for that one common goal: home.

All that said, I definitely recommend both films as I was left speechless at the endings. See them in theatres while you still can!

Stay legit, y’all!
Nyke

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2 Legit 2 Quit

Once I was referred to as legit. It was my first time in a community group and my third time visiting a new church in Boston after I felt that God was guiding my life around a curve. I was probably a bit awk because none of the people I met Sunday were coming and on top of that I was the first person there and one of the last to leave this somewhat stranger’s apartment. I may be an extrovert, but I have introvert tendencies.

However, the Bible study was on point and challenging and the conversations afterward made me feel welcome. I explained what led me to the church, sang praises of the trio Beautiful Eulogy and found a fellow Z.Tao fan with whom I could be excited (read: fangirl) about his new music and films. And that’s how I became legit—by way of my love for this former Kpop boy band member turned Chinese rapper. Needless to say, I was overjoyed to have found people whom I’d enjoy having in my tribe.

This same feeling of being legit happened to me at KCON LA last week and I’m having withdrawals. Not only did I win a hi-touch pass for my ultimate bias group, VIXX, but I also got to see swangel Kevin Woo, take a photo with the awesome Sam Okyere, watch KARD’s soundcheck from a private box at the Staples Center and rave about my girl Heesun Lee and Show Me The Money. I had conversations about 슈퍼맨이 돌아왔다 (The Return of Superman), cultural reconciliation, language study tips, and food. On top of that, I met a scholar of Afro-Asian cultural production, Dr. Crystal Anderson (Dr. CeeFu), who is honestly living part of my dream. For a first time attendee at KCON, I had so much fun.

And it solidified me continuing this journey towards a PhD and beyond.

The entire weekend, I was constantly reminded of this deep love I’ve had for various cultures, especially East Asian ones and specifically Korean and Japanese, since a child. I was reminded of why I am becoming fluent in Korean and Japanese. I recognized who I am, who I was made to be, and how my heart beats for ethnic reconciliation, cross-cultural friendships and love that is not flaky or untruthful or lasts only as much as someone is made “happy.”

I was reminded that I, and being a black woman studying ethnicity and cross-cultural interactions, am too legit to quit. And that there were others around me who are just as legit.

So this is why I’M BACK, BABY! KeativeTherapy has been my brain child since 2010 and because of school and life it’s gone through many changes and been put on hold. But I say no more. Thank you to those who have subscribed, read, followed, and supported me in so many ways. Please bear with me now as I keep the site open while it’s under construction. I’m solidifying a biweekly posting schedule and other things, so please hold me to it!

Stay legit, y’all!
Nyke

What Would MLK Tweet?

This morning I read quite an interesting devotional from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece, Alveda King. I really enjoyed it not only because today is the day we celebrate MLK’s birthday, but also because it’s fun to imagine the faces of a movement that have passed away utilizing today’s technology. When most people will be quoting MLK on Twitter, I continued thinking about what would MLK tweet himself, especially at a time like this.

Here are a few favs of mine:

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

“We are made for the stars…”

“Agape love, repentance, forgiveness, prayer, faith: all are keys to resolving human issues.”

“Lord Jesus, thank You for the peace that passes all understanding that helps us to cope with the tensions of modern living.”

“Agape love, repentance, forgiveness, prayer, faith: all are keys to resolving human issues.”

 

If you would like to read the devotional (I recommend it!), you can see it here.

Have any favorites from this list? What are your favorite tweetable MLK quotes?