Dear Chaemin

채민이에게

Short Documentary | Three-Channel Video Installation
2020 | 17:15 | COLOR | STEREO | Korean with English Subtitles
A Film by Cyan Bae 배채연

Leiden Shorts (2021, NL)
Ramsgate International Film & TV Festival (2021, UK)
Zeitgeist Film Festival (2021, US)
Wicked Queer: Boston’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival (2021, US)
Nederlands Film Festival, Nominated for the Fentener van Vlissingen Fonds Award (2020, NL)
Nominated for the Royal Academy Master Department Award (2020, NL)

For screening inquries, please contact cyan@pingping.press
상영 문의 cyan@pingping.press

The current COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects communities that were already marginalized prior to the Coronavirus due to racism, sexism, homo- and transphobia. The pandemic state of alert has once more evidenced the extent of social fragmentation and discrimination which has been systematically sustained for decades.

Dear Chaemin is a series of three video letters sent by Cyan Bae from The Hague to her sister in Seoul in the midst of social isolation. The autofictional film juxtaposes the Korean and Dutch contexts of contact tracing, biopolitics and crowd control practices, each of which intensifies the stigmatization and violence against queer communities and people of Asian descent. While yearning for the Post-Corona in the New Normal, should we wish the normal back?

Music
Original Score by waterparken
Bandcamp⬈

Supervision
Dr. Mijke van der Drift, Lizzie Malcolm and Dan Powers

Coding
Lizzie Malcolm and Dan Powers

Graduation Project
MA Non-Linear Narrative
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague
2020

코로나19 팬데믹은 코로나 이전의 사회에서 이미 취약하던 공동체에 인종화와 성차별, 동성애/트랜스혐오와 결속된 더욱더 촘촘한 파괴를 불러오고 있다. 견고하게 지속되어 온 구조적이고 파편화된 차별은 팬데믹의 경보 상황을 통해 또다시 선명해진다.

이동 제한이 권고되는 헤이그에서 감독은 서울의 동생에게 영상편지 연작을 전송한다. 오토소설적인 이 단편은 한국과 네덜란드의 역학조사, 생물정치와 군중통제 맥락을 병치하며 국가적/개인적 감시가 서울의 퀴어 커뮤니티와 유럽의 아시아계 커뮤니티의 낙인화와 폭력에 기여하는 과정을 탐구한다. 이주와 거리 두기의 상황에서 이는 교차하고, 뉴노멀 속에서 포스트-코로나를 열망할 때, 노멀을 돌려받기를 희망해야 하는가?

음악
Original Score by waterparken
Bandcamp⬈

작품지도
Dr. Mijke van der Drift, Lizzie Malcolm and Dan Powers

코딩
Lizzie Malcolm and Dan Powers

헤이그왕립예술학교 비선형적내러티브전공
석사학위 청구작품 2020

Dear Chaemin,

What does it mean that we were raised as sisters in South Korea? Chaemin, I always thought we were different.1 We’ve had completely different wardrobes, MP3 playlists, bookmark bars, and secrets… I never explained why I left home when you were 13. This letter is for the in-betweens of now and then, and here and there.2

My oldest memory is of the Minnie Mouse bracelets. Do you remember? We wore child loss prevention bracelets with a flat pendant each engraved with our name and Resident Registration Number (RRN) until our wrists grew out of them.3

I was excited by the launch of Pinch a few years ago. I met words that I needed to hear and sentences with strength. It made me want to write, but that required my gender to be verified with RRN. Written by women. Written only by women.4 I closed the window. I only realized here that I took RRNs for granted, and also that the first person to be assigned one was Park Chung-hee. 110101-100001. Yuk Young-soo, the First Lady of the dictatorship, was assigned 110101-200002. The South Korean government divided all citizens into 1’s and 2’s since then.5

A nationalized living that is managed almost completely since the registered birth. (Hong 2007)6 To go to school, to open a bank account, to see a doctor, to make a mobile phone number, to get a passport, to vote last week, and to buy facemasks this week. Our grandma, uncles, and Suji changed their names online, but to cross over the boundaries (Stryker 2008) of 1 and 2 needs to be sterilized, go through surgery, get divorced, stay childless, find testifiers, write letters and wish luck with the judge. (조각보 2019)7 Jihyun decides to stay at home without facemasks.8

I think a lot of the protests that banned cameras and promised facemasks.9 Like Jihyun and I, People were done with checking screws and knobs of public bathrooms and covering holes with toilet paper. Thousands of people gathered in my neighborhood every other week. This protest only invites biological women.10 I remember the neighborhood cafe Jihyun and I had coffee in silence that day.  The bitter weight of living in Seoul was too heavy for me.11

Peru and Panama introduced lockdown by gender. Women and men can go out on alternate days. The Interior Minister of Panama says it is the simplest mechanism. I’m dizzy.12 Why do we need to know that Patient Seocho-36 is a woman? Would she have faced the same backlash for having been to Starbucks every day if not? Then Patient Yongin-66. I sighed out loud when I read on the case from clubs in Itaewon. They quarantined 10,905 people traced with mobile phone connection and debit/credit card records. Kukmin Daily reported an exclusive arguing Covid-19 can be contained when homosexual activities are traced.13 King Seoul’s Instagram account is gone and Trunk is private. Hoon told me, in Itaewon and Jongno, gay bars and restaurants are closed while the straight ones are bustling.14 Why should our citizenship be proved with our absence? (터울 2020)15

I had to take a break after writing this far. I headed out for the weekly groceries to face a stranger who yelled Corona at me. I rushed to Albert Heijn but kept hearing my heartbeat in my ears. I return to the same question: why should our health be proved with our absence? Sooyoung my classmate, Jimin my Instagram friend, and Soyeon in Berlin all left to Korea. I — We — should be, or decide to be, absent.16

I’m thinking of the quarantine app that will trace my GPS in our parents’ house in Cheongdo.17 That house never had our room. The journals from elementary school are stacked in a Korea Post box. The novel I transcribed when I was 18 is maybe in a potato box. What about the Minnie Mouse bracelets? Nobody knows which box is which. Chaemin, that was why I decided to remain here.18

It’s raining a lot here, but I guess Seoul is entering its summer.
Wishing you a peaceful summer without trouble,

Chaeyuen

IMG_9630.MOV

서지컬스틸

경향신문, 1968-11-21

조각보-1

조각보-2

조각보-3

"주민등록제도는 우리의 일상을 크게 바꿔 놓았다. 무엇보다 중요한 것은 주민등록제도에 기반을 둔 일상을 만들어냈다는 것이다. 그것은 국가에 의해 거의 완전히 통합적으로 관리될 수 있는 국가주의적 일상이다. 사실상 모든 활동에서 주민등록번호를 기록하도록 함으로써 국가는 우리의 일상을 낱낱이 추적하고 확인할 수 있다. 그 결과 우리는 무의식적으로 국가의 감시를 용인하고 내면화하게 된다. 주민등록제도는 국민이 국가를 만드는 것이 아니라 국가가 국민을 만든다는 국가주의적 사고방식을 확산하는 정치적 장치가 되었다."
"이제 서른을 눈앞에 둔 그는 마스크 하나 사러 가기 쉽지 않다고 털어놓았다. 차라리 나처럼 남성의 태생을 가진 여성이라면 겉으로는 여성의 모습을 하고 남자 신분증을 가지고 있으니 의심이라고 해봤자 고개 갸웃거리는 정도일 뿐인데, 겉으로는 남성의 모습을 하고 여자 신분증을 내미는 그는 번번이 곤혹스러운 상황을 맞닥뜨린다고 했다. 아직 호적상 성별정정을 하지 않은 그가 마주하는 현실이다."
→ http://3d.daegu.go.kr/
→ https://thepin.ch/
→ http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/society/society_general/945211.html#csidxf80a4663d2fd6d098c582d4141b1c44

Dear Chaemin,

From the speechlessness that I couldn’t name; the eyes, hands, and hugs from the girls’ school that I couldn’t enter if I arrived after the bell without being beaten by danso or back scratchers.1 Next to the boarding school where teachers threw flowerpots and boys rated their classmates’ faces.

I’ve done my best to escape from then. Day after day, I stacked on life layer by layer. It is not much to say that my past was designed to let go of those times. (Park 2020)3

Facemasks: We were used to them. I wore them when the fine dust index was ‘dangerous,’ when I didn’t wear makeup, or going to protests or public bathrooms. They meant protection and peace.2 I was smiling when I deleted the fine dust app at Seoul Incheon Airport and thought I no longer needed them.4 My cough got much better here. I smirked as I learned later that the air pollution, along with factories, has been outsourced to Asia.

Mom shipped me facemasks. Mom always asks me how my coughing is on the phone. My chronic cough is still here and my face is still Asian and I cannot leave home.5 While doing groceries this week, I had to hold my breath to stop coughing and almost cried in Albert Heijn. Whenever I step out, I sense eyes all the time on my body.

I ran away from Seoul because of the ten meters between the City Hall station and the Seoul Plaza, the taxi driver who asked me to go to karaoke with him, the professor who grabbed my shoulder and called me Miss Marlboro, and honestly the silence in Hyehwa where the two of us lived after ten years.6 It’s funny now, but I imagined that somewhere like this7 will help me breathe.

Then, on my way home after Pride,8 a stranger shouted Ni Hao. I met countless assholes like that,9 but that white, innocent smile stopped my world for a moment. We are just Asians holding hands now. That’s it. I cut my hair that day. I wouldn’t run away anymore.

We are walking in the heart of winter. Here, nobody ages and time does not count as days or years. (Choi 2017) I feel like I am the only one who is not aging or the only one who is. I must be the only one who forgot how to cycle. On the balcony across my window are white people welcoming summer with white music. I stared at them quite some time.

Suji is sick in London. The knowledge that young people die less did not help her. The experience was more brutal than the knowledge, keeping her on the bed with muscle pain, headache, and of all, tremendous fatigue. Eunah cannot lie down next to Suji any more. London promises to issue immunity passports, monitored by facial recognition software.10 When the pain passes and she gets one, Suji might be able to return to work. But what about Eunah? She cannot risk herself. When would Suji and Eunah look again into each other’s eyes? I think a lot about my loving friends.

The question of choice between privacy and health is wrong. (Harari 2020)11 Suji didn’t apply for relief funds as it might have consequences for her visa. Eunah and I always laugh about our high school on the phone, but yesterday we held a silence thinking of how we grew weak during those years. The security camera that promised a safe school remembered the faces who missed the curfew. Eunah was kicked out of the dorm and had to move into a studio alone when she was 16. Was that CCTV for her security?12

When infrared cameras see through our skin, CCTVs on buses stare at facemasks, QR codes, mobile connection tracking, and transaction records are mapped, do we have access to that map?13  Black, Bangladeshi/Pakistani, Indian, Other ethnic groups, Chinese, Mixed/multiple ethnic groups, and white: They say it is in this order that you’re most likely to die from the pandemic.  Another says 35 out of 40 arrested in Brooklyn for violating social distancing were Black. When the choice is robbed and both privacy and security are lost, cui bono? (Lee 2020)14

While writing all this, perilla is growing fast. I guess the seasons here are changing, too. Make sure to wear masks. I’ll write to you soon.

Chaeyuen

3d.daegu.go.kr

경향신문/이준헌

한겨레/박종식

REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

"나는 최선을 다해 그때로부터 도망쳐왔다. 한 겹씩 인생을 쌓아올리는 기분으로 하루하루를 살아왔다. 지난 내 삶은 그 시절을 떠나보내기 위해 존재했다고 해도 과언이 아닐 것이다."
The board of the Pride Amsterdam foundation, including chairman Frits Huffnagel, resigned on Monday due to statements Huffnagel made about refugees and war criminals. After initially just distancing itself from Huffnagel's comments, the board decided to rather step down to prevent the commotion affecting the Pride event, NOS reports.
"Asking people to choose between privacy and health is, in fact, the very root of the problem. Because this is a false choice. We can and should enjoy both privacy and health. We can choose to protect our health and stop the coronavirus epidemic not by instituting totalitarian surveillance regimes, but rather by empowering citizens."
"따라서 개인에게는 고통이자 프라이버시의 침해가 되는 무수한 데이터의 유통 속에서도 누가 그 최초 공급자이며 가해자인지 명확히 드러나지 않는 경우가 많다. 오늘날과 같은 사회에서 프라이버시의 침해는 ‘누가 이득을 보는가’를 심증으로는 알 수 있으나 물증으로는 특정하기 어렵다는 점에서 ‘구조적으로’ 더욱 비가시화된 고통이 되어간다."
→ http://3d.daegu.go.kr/
→ http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/society/schooling/861443.html
→ https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/a-short-cultural-history-of-mask-wearing-essay-jordan-sand/
→ http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/society/society_general/685821.html
→ http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/society/society_general/912938.html
→ https://earth.nullschool.net/ko/#2019/03/19/2100Z/chem/surface/level/overlay=so2smass/orthographic=-238.02,36.79,1888/loc=110.736,19.514
→ http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/society/society_general/685821.html
→ https://www.instagram.com/asianvoiceseurope/
→ http://3dgis.seoul.go.kr/
→ https://imnews.imbc.com/replay/2000/nwdesk/article/1861918_30735.html
→ https://imnews.imbc.com/replay/1996/nwdesk/article/1973257_30711.html
→ https://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/20/world/same-sex-dutch-couples-gain-marriage-and-adoption-rights.html
→ https://nltimes.nl/2020/03/10/pride-amsterdam-board-resigns-controversial-refugee-comments
→ http://iamangry.de/
→ https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2020/05/20/facial-recognition-firms-pitch-covid-19-immunity-passports-for-america-and-britain/#770706f45914
→ https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52807414
→ https://www.biometricupdate.com/202004/uk-immunity-passport-proposals-leverage-biometric-facial-recognition
→ http://www.cnfl.cnehs.kr/sub/info.do?m=0502&s=cnfl

Dear Chaemin,

Schools are open again, and the bar downstairs is full until late for Friday. This spring will be remembered long, but who gets to have their everyday to be recovered? Suji can taste and smell again, but Eunah decided to go back to Korea. Jihyun can now buy facemasks online, but she was fired.

Peru stopped the gendered lockdown.1 The president’s words that the policy is not a pretext for homophobic conduct did not help trans and non-binary people, and domestic labor to visit supermarkets or pharmacies was disproportionately placed on women. They admitted the failure of measures, but then Colombia began their gendered lockdown.2

IBM admitted that facial recognition technologies operate on the bias based on race and gender. As I celebrate the small victory, the phrase general purpose3 catches my eyes. What are the other purposes? Then at the news Pinch will close its doors, I become more lonely.

Everyone’s talking about the new world,4 but there are still no flights, and I am in between my bed and table. It is still only the plants who count time in the new world where the healthy, safe, and suitable bodies are not mine, nor Suji’s, Eunah’s, nor Jihyun’s, nor workers at Coupang — nor Amazon — nor queer, nor Black, nor Asian.5

Imagining a better-than-now future, completely sanitized as virus-free, would be too romantic. I read Ruin’s writing over and over. Regardless of the hopes and aspirations for a linear improvement, life and movements flow. (루인 2019) I stay quite a while on the section’s title: Bearing the Worsening.6

Chaemin, I’m reading your letter over and over again. If we meet up at our current speed, at our sixth next time I will be 40. Is it too late to be sad about Damti where I didn’t pick up your call, about Sinchon where I left you in a cafe for Suji, and about Hyehwa where we never cooked together?  I wonder about your habits, thoughts, and cooking. When would we see each other again? By then, let’s pass the troubles and make eye contact.

I know this letter will live short, but I wrote for memory. Half of this was a confession, and the other half a novel. There were no lies.

Chaemin, promise me that you’ll stay safe. In any way that suits you, please don’t be sick.

Chaeyuen

"더 좋아질 것이라는 희망이나 기대가 없어도 삶과 운동은 지속된다. 미래는 더 좋아질 것이라는 희망 서사가 과거를 일방적으로 불행하게 만들고, 과거와 현재를 온전히 인식하기 힘들게 만든다. 상황이 더 나빠질 것을 알지만 운동을 할 수 있다. 더 좋아질 것이라는 희망 자체를 갖지 않고 운동을 할 수도 있다. 더 나은 미래를 상상하는 방식으로 삶과 운동을 조직하는 태도 그 자체를 질문해야 한다."
→ https://www.businessinsider.nl/peru-quarantining-men-and-women-different-days-2020-4?international=true&r=US
→ https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/may/08/separation-by-sex-gendered-lockdown-fuelling-hate-on-streets-of-bogota
→ https://thepin.ch/think/msb1N/ruin-column-2019-01

Bibliography | 참고문헌

Harari, Yuval Noah. → “Yuval Noah Harari: The World After Coronavirus.” Financial Times. March 20, 2020.
Stryker, Susan. Transgender History. Seal Press, 2008.
루인. → “더 나은 미래라는 착각.” 핀치, 2019.
박상영. “우리 다이어리.” In → 1차원이 되고 싶어. 주간 문학동네. 문학동네, 2020.
이희은. “감시사회에서 비가시화된 고통으로서의 프라이버시: 젠더 관점에서의 탐색.” 아시아여성연구 59, no. 1 (2020): 167–206.
조각보. “트랜스젠더 성별 정정 간단 가이드라인 (2020.04.01 수정).” 트랜스젠더 인권단체 조각보, 2019.
최진영. 해가 지는 곳으로. 민음사, 2017.
터울. → “세상 사이의 터울 #7 : 자가격리의 계보.” 친구사이 뉴스레터 119호, 2020.
홍성태. “주민등록제도와 일상적 감시사회: ‘박정희 체계’를 넘어서.” 민주사회와 정책연구 12, no. 0 (2007): 321–45.