YIDFF 2005 New Asian Currents Special Invitation Film
Annyong, Sayonara
An Interview with Kim Tae-il (Director), Kato Kumiko (Co-Director)

If You Really Love Japan, Think about Where It Stands

Q: When and how did the two of you get to know each other?

Kato Kumiko (KK): Around the start of this year. We originally started out wanting to preserve memories of the war within Japanese and Korean civil society groups. It was while making a video about the problem of Siberian detainees in Korea that our collaborative relationship was born. After that, we thought that perhaps we could make something together too, and with that I met Tae-il-san (Director Kim) who had been invited by one of the groups, and that’s how we started working together.

Q: How did the two of you manage to communicate and share your ideas and thoughts despite the language barrier?

KK: We had a coordinator on both the Korean and Japanese sides. We were fortunate to have the two of them translate our mail exchanges and coordinate a lot of things.

Q: How would you rate this first-time co-production? Successful?

KK: I think it was successful. I think we have been very successful to have been able to reach this point despite the mutual language barrier.

Kim Tae-il (KT): Same! I think we faced many mountainous obstacles. But given that our film focuses on a problem that even nations cannot resolve, we agreed that we would place great emphasis on the process of making it. As a result, we were able to achieve such commendable results because we were able to work together.

Q: Did the two of you film the movie separately in your own countries or together?

KK: We tried to film together as much as possible. However, we each assumed responsibility when the need for additional interviews or filming cropped up later.

Q: I’m interested in hearing how both of you think about and approach film. Do you think that movies can be a form of political action?

KT: It’s my personal opinion, but if you just think about it simply, I do believe they have the power to change things. However, I don’t think it’s possible for movies to easily change large numbers of people.

KK: I think that when people are touched by something, they will want to try and do something. I think that it is that something I would like to try and make. I want people to be moved and to think.

Q: What do you think of the opinion that visiting Yasukuni demonstrates one love for the country, or that the Yasukuni Shrine is not a militaristic shrine but instead a shrine that protects Japan’s independence?

KT: When we interviewed people who argue that the Yasukuni Shrine is essential, a professor Nagoshi answered, “Well, have you ever visited any national cemeteries in your own country?” When I answered “No,” I was told “then you are a traitor to your country.” I think it was because I don’t pay courtesies to such places which supposedly protect the country. Of course, in some respects treasuring or revering Yasukuni can be seen as having that element of strengthening patriotic feelings in Japan. But seen from another perspective, that will only generate conflict and antagonism.

KK: Professor Nagoshi said that “it’s fine for each and everyone of us to have patriotism,” but I think that one person’s patriotism will surely collide with another’s and inevitably lead to war. When all is said and done, the Yasukuni Shrine is a shrine that only lists those who fought in the name of the emperor. Protecting this shrine is not really about building a peaceful world, but protecting “Nippon,” a country which has the emperor at its heart. If you really think about Japan, it has no choice but to build good relations with other countries. If you really love Japan, you’d want to think about where it stands in Asia and how it can become a country which can communicate properly with its neighbours.

(Compiled by Jen Wei Ting, Inotani Yoshika)

Interviewers: Jen Wei Ting, Inotani Yoshika / Interpreter: Yamazaki Remina
Photography: Hitachi Hitomi / Video: Ichikawa Yusuke / 2005-10-12