Lee Soo-young, Lee Geum-hong

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Kimchi and Bean sprouts of Korean Chinese people who left for the north 100 years ago, but
recently returned to Korea to make money, are different from ours. Our work is to investigate
and record layers of their lives in Garibong-town, Seoul, beyond boundaries of nation, country,
thought, and culture. People who renew their lives momentarily live in Garibong-town.
Lee soo-young _ strange table

Lee Soo-young _Leaving for the far again

Lee Geum-hong_The study of Garibongdong Smell
single channel video, 00:08:00

Lee Geum-hong_<The Study of Garibongdong smell> making film, Yanji-Xingjiang Report

Those Paying a Visit to the Unique Zone of Garibong-Town
                                                                                         Kim Yong-phil, Chife Editor of Dongpo Town

Garibong-dong, Guro-gu, Seoul is a unique zone. Many people from various walks of life visit here. When I involved in business with Chinese-Koreans, I came to have a connection with this area. Chinese-Koreans I met here while covering them as a reporter feared of being found out
by the external world. The reason why they were reluctant to be exposed was due to their distrust of strangers, fear of a crackdown on illegal residents, and their impoverished life in a single rented room. Despite their reluctance, many broadcast and newspaper reporters visited here to cover their life
during Solnal (Lunar New Year Day) and Chuseok (Thanksgiving Day). They asked me for some help – to take their pictures for special features during those holidays. Chinese-Koreans in this area and their lives were often reported on during these holidays.

Since the middle of 2002 more Chinese-Koreans have visited here because they could find places to sleep and jobs, obtain daily necessities with ease, and meet many other people of their native country. As the population of foreign residents continued to grow, relevant crimes increased. When news of crimes committed by foreign residents was reported, Garibong-town became the No. 1 target for crackdowns of illegal aliens. Its atmosphere was disturbed when police or Ministry of Justice investigation teams swept this area. The residents were suspicious of each other, and some made an emergency exit.

They suffered from the aftermath of the crackdowns. Since 2004 residents and merchants have endeavored to make the area a good place to live, organizing a song contests shared with Chinese-Koreans. Since 2006 this voluntary movement has gradually weakened when the issue of redevelopment was discussed among inhabitants. “If we redevelop, all this will disappear...” However, many years have passed but redevelopment has not occurred. Inhabitants and Chinese- Koreans are at a standstill, and this region is losing its vitality. During the 1970s and 80s young laborers inspired labor literature here. Since 2000 Garibong-town and Chine-Koreans who came to Korea with their dreams of a new life became the backdrop of many TV dramas, films, and novels. As this area became the subject of academic studies in sociology, geography, and cultural anthropology, many scholars, professors, and doctors in these fields came here from the United States and Japan.

Garibong-town Yanbian Town planned and executed by Lee Soo-young and Lee Geum-hong, resident artists of Seoul Art Space, Geumcheon, brought fresh life to Garibong-town. This project is highly credited in that it discovered artistic, cultural value in this region with a dark image, and made it accessible to the general public. I focused on heralding its value, defining Garibong-dong as ‘the downgraded version of Northeast Asia’ or ‘a bridge of communication to understand Korean and Chinese culture’. My endeavor, however, didn’t work at all, probably due to its enormity. There are rumors to designate Daelim-dong, Yeongdungpo-gu, Jayang 4-dong, and Gwangjin-gu as Chinatowns or special culture zones. Garibongdong, where the first Korean-Chinese migrants dwelled and shared their joys and sorrows, is disappearing now, having failed to revive itself. Garibong-town is a cultural heritage site that spontaneously generated and formed. This site was initially shabby and insignificant, but will later be a time-honored cultural zone and a place where many people formed everlasting memories. Its value is also found in that the traces, lives, and culture of laborers can be handed down to Chinese-Korean immigrants, as a place where they shared joys and sorrows. Despite the fact that we will have much to lose through any urban redevelopment that ignores such historical value, I admit that this is an unavoidable and lamentable reality. The only choice is to record the memories of Garibong-town and leave them in artistic works such as videos and photographs.