YIDFF 2011 New Asian Currents
We’ve never seen a night which has finished by reaching a day
An Interview with Lee Ju-hyoung (Director)

Trauma Emerging from Darkness

Q: How did you come to make this film?

LJ: My prior works are short animations whose themes are about individuals. However, for outside reasons, I also produced works about people who had somehow been victimized against their will. As such, I wanted to address the issue of “comfort women” at some point.

Q: How did you come to meet the former comfort woman in this film?

LJ: I was in France when I thought to begin production, and at the time there were limits to how I could come to know comfort women. I reviewed documents first. Looking at the Internet and books, I learned names and what kind of experiences comfort women had faced. I was able to indirectly communicate with them by examining those sources. When looking at a photograph, I tried to imagine the personality of that old woman. When I went to the House of Sharing (The Nanum House) I had studied up and knew most of the comfort women there. But Kim Hwa-Seon, the only woman who appears in this film, was the only one I didn’t know. It had only been 2 months since she had moved in. She still had not gotten acquainted with the other women, and she was in a state where she could barely eat. I spent 2 months in the Nanum Home, and for the first 2 weeks I didn’t bring my camera at all. During that period we’d eat together, clean and share personal time. Kim Hwa-Seon is very introverted, and she would close herself in her room and not go outside.

Q: She in this film says, “I don’t think of men as human.” How did you take those words?

LJ: I realized she may have been directing them to me. I felt she was speaking to all males, of which I am one. I felt very awkward. I was the one filming, so I had to enter her room. When you first enter in the film, you see black screen and hear the sound of a door. The film begins with the feeling of entering darkness, and at its end the woman says, “I am still disgusted by men.” I listen without saying a word; the film ends with a sigh. I am Kim Hwa-seon’s friend, but I am also a man and therefore her enemy. I think I must be an ambiguous existence to her.

Q: You used many scenes with only her voice over black. What did you mean by them?

LJ: I went to a film festival and received this question from the audience. Why don’t the first 20 minutes have images? I thought her voice was expressing incredibly important things, and found it sufficient in and of itself. I thought it would be best not to include images, and tried to emphasize the darkness. The title of this film, We’ve never seen a night which has finished by reaching a day, is a line from an Algerian former prostitute. Night is sandwiched between days. This film is a story that traces memory. If you take memory as day, then naturally within that there is darkness. I am always trying to express hope, but some nights are despair. When I entered this dark space, at first my eyes did not adjust and I could barely see. But little by little I regained my vision. I wanted to express that feeling. You think it is a momentary darkness, but trauma rises to the surface there. In this dark space where I thought there was nothing, in reality there was trauma. By using black I thought I could express that. 

(Compiled by Kimuro Shiho)

Interviewers: Kimuro Shiho, Onuma Ayaka / Interpreter: Nemoto Rie / Translator: Kyle Hecht
Photography: Nihei Tomomi / Video: Hiroya Motoko / 2011-10-08