Ghosts in New Malden - Hidden Memory


Single-channel digital video, colour, sound, 2 min 46 sec, 2021

While writing a paper regarding the Japanese Colonial memory of South Koreans, my interest expanded to the people who immigrated by force to other countries during the colonized period. It is also because as I reside in Peckham, where lots of immigrants live in.

These thoughts eventually led me to the Korean diaspora. Especially, New Malden, a Korean town in the Southern part of London came to my mind and I started my research on this town. Interestingly, there were lots of North Korean in the town, and the ratio of the North Korean population is the greatest which is 10% according to the journals. After getting to know this new information, my interest in New Malden grew bigger, and I imagined that town as North and South Koreans live together and coexist peacefully.

First, I planned to have several channels’ videos for my artwork. Each video was supposed to be dedicated to different Korean diasporas, or South Koreans and North Koreans in London with tracing their life. For the production of the video, North Korean interviewees were needed.

I sent twenty emails to Korean organisations, institutions, communities, Journals, and associations such as Korean Residents’ Society in the UK and The Korean Residents Society to seek North Koreans. On the 8th of April, the biggest Koreans in London Community website’s owner replied, but with the answer that he does not know any North Koreans and the website is only for South Koreans. two days later, I met Han-ah and he was a South Korean British who has lived in London for his whole life. I asked him if there is any North Koreans he knows, but the answer was an unexpected one, which is that he has no experiences of an encounter with North Koreans. Also, a South Korean guy who had one football game with North Koreans said that that was the last time to see them and they did not talk much. On the 13th of April, one of the organisation I have contacted called me back and to my question, she said with a bluff manner “South Koreans in London are also sort of diaspora. Do you really need that North Korean interviewee so much?”

On the 23rd of April, a call with the National Unification Advisory Council finally achieved and the chairman introduced me to a person in charge of the North Koreans defectors. However, this person told me with concern that, “They take precaution to outsiders a lot, so it takes time to communicate with them.”

Lastly, a Euro Journal journalist replied to me that try to call the Korean Senior Citizens Association so that I called them. The president of the association kindly asked me to join one of their regular zoom meeting. On the 23rd of April, even they gave me a chance to ask what I am curious about, with seeing their several faces through zoom screen, I could not ask that “Is there any North Korean here” as It sounds like sorting out them.

Eventually, I decide to visit New Malden with an expectation that I might be able to find something which I have not seen in South Korea, and other Korean towns in the United Kingdom as about 10% of people are living in New Malden which is an unprecedented case. I inferred that with this number, North Koreans might feel like less minorities than living in South Korea.

However, after wandering around New Malden and try to hop into several stores, I had to concede that there were no traces at all regarding North Koreans. It was hard to find any clues from languages, cultures, and foods.

It was a conundrum as news articles are saying that there are so many North Koreans.

With these sixth attempts and visiting New Malden, I thought they might elide their identity because of the anxiety of getting discrimination from South Koreans. What if North Koreans are haunted by the question, “Where are you from”, and the reason that it is hard to find them is that because North Koreans keep secrets so hardly. How would it be to bear an unspeakable truth?

This artwork will throw a question about the invisible North Koreans and will leave the subject to solve as next with seeking for a symbiotic relationship and genuine communication between North and South.


Goldsmiths MA Contemporary Art Theory 2021