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The Past is a Strange Country 2008

  • Kim Eung-soo
  • March 6, 2008
  • 90 mins
  • Korean
  • Documentary
On April 28, 1986, two students, twenty-year-old Kim Se-jin and Lee Jae-ho, immolated themselves to death, shouting slogans, “No war, no nuclear weapons, Yankee go home,” “U.S. sign the peace treaty with North Korea,” and “Expel American imperialists.” This took place in the midst of a public demonstration against the forced conscription of students, joined by approximately four hundred students and held at the Sinrim crossroads facing the Seoul National University main gate. The manner of their deaths, the radicalness of their slogans (they were the first overtly anti-American statements to be heard in public since the conclusion of the Korean War) deeply shocked Korean society at the time. Twenty years have since passed. The world has changed.

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