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Project #1 Borderline

Jihae Park was born in 1987 in the divided nation of Korea after the Korean War (1950-1953). When she was born, much of the evidence of the war had vanished, and she learned about the atrocities of the war through her grandparents, books, and TV. Still, the small country remains divided with limited means of communication, each claiming the other as the enemy. North Korea has isolated itself to the extreme, making itself a hermit nation.


In 2008, Jihae Park had a rare opportunity to travel to North Korea. Her memory of crossing the border has left an everlasting impression on her. This was the first time she had ever crossed the border via ground transportation. The experience of seeing the different Korea that appeared before her when she crossed the thin line of the border impacted her greatly. This led to her interest in borderlines, not just in North and South Korea, but also in the borderlines in our everyday lives.


In addition, rather than focusing on political and ideological conflict or the atrocities of the war, her interest was peaked by the similarities between the two Koreas. After visiting North Korea, she came face to face with the fact that people who spoke the same language, had similar customs, and had similar appearances as South Koreans were starving to death. The mountains in North Korea had become barren long ago, so that desperate people resorted to eating tree bark as a source of nutrients. At least 3,000,000 have starved to death in the last few years, and there are people who risk their lives to escape the regime in the hope of escaping suffering and starvation. Since her trip, she has constantly asked herself about her responsibility and the role of sympathy in regards to their suffering."

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