NBC: ‘Operation Chromite’ focuses on ‘Forgotten’ Korean War, bridging US and Korean cinema

 

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NBC News (by Stephany Bai):

Despite heavy involvement from the U.S. military, the Korean War is often referred to as “the forgotten war” because of its relatively low profile in history, according to military historians.

A new film, “Operation Chromite,” is spotlighting one of the key figures of the war, United States Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Liam Neeson portrays MacArthur in the film and is joined by two major Korean actors, Bum Soo Lee and Jung Jae Lee, in telling the story of the amphibious landing at Incheon, which the filmmakers say was one of the most consequential moments of the war. The movie, which makes its American debut on Aug. 12, opened at number one in South Korea, according to Variety.

[MacArthur] is a very well-known and respected figure in South Korea,” Bum Soo Lee told NBC News. “There may be people who have different ideologies in Korea, but overall the Korean people appreciate and respect what [General MacArthur and the US military] did.”

Liam Neeson, center, portrays Gen. Douglas MacArthur in “Operation Chromite,” a new movie about the Korean War. 

He added that the events portrayed in the film, and the people behind them, are directly responsible for the growth of South Korea, noting that the South Korean soldiers had been on the verge of giving up a key military stronghold when MacArthur executed the Incheon landing operation.

The Battle of Incheon and the landing operation cut the supply chain of the North Korean military and soldiers, and that contributed a lot to turning the tide of the war,” he said. “That lead to building democracy in South Korea and contributed to the economic growth that we’re seeing to this day.

Bum Soo Lee, center, in “Operation Chromite”

Bum Soo Lee plays the villain of the film, a North Korean spy, while Jung Jae Lee is a South Korean commander who infiltrates the North Korean army. Both actors emphasized to NBC News the research and preparation they did for the film.

What we as actors, as well as the director, focus so much on is speaking towards the truth,” Bum Soo Lee said. “This movie is based on a true event, on history. There was a lot of pressure on our shoulders because we were telling the story of these unsung heroes, who sacrificed themselves in the war, and we really wanted to pay respect to them.”

Jung Jae Lee added that the same was true for Neeson. “[Neeson] created new scenes and suggestions that were incorporated because he really tried his best to depict the real character,” Jung Jae Lee said. “The amount of effort he put into the character was really impressive.”

Jung Jae Lee said that he believes “Operation Chromite” represents a step toward greater collaboration between Hollywood and the Korean movie industry.

These days you see a lot of Hollywood movies open in advance in Korea, and big actors coming to promote their movies in Korea,” he said. “I can’t say there are a lot of Korean actors working in Hollywood, but the few we do already have are doing a great job in TV and movies. I believe that we’ll be able to see more of that in the near future.”

Representatives from 91 nations attend ceremony on 71st anniversary of atomic bombing of Hiroshima

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Japan Times:

Hiroshima on Saturday marked the 71st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing, with Mayor Kazumi Matsui calling on world leaders to do more to abolish nuclear weapons and to follow U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic visit to the city in May with trips of their own.

At a memorial ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe echoed Matsui’s call and also urged young people to visit to observe the harrowing reality of the atomic bombing. Abe also reiterated Japan’s role in combating nuclear proliferation as the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.

In the Peace Declaration read at the city’s annual memorial ceremony, Matsui urged the leaders of all nations to visit Hiroshima, which was devastated by an atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, and Nagasaki, which was obliterated by another atomic strike three days later by the United States, in order to “etch the reality of the atomic bombings in each (leader’s) heart.

Matsui then called on the world to “unify and manifest our passion in action” to proceed toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

 

A moment of silence was observed at 8:15 a.m., the time the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima at an altitude of about 600 meters, killing an estimated 140,000 people by the end of 1945. A second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9 that year, and Japan surrendered six days later, effectively ending the war.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized the importance of maintaining and enhancing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that binds its signatories not to pursue atomic weapons programs.

Abe also said he will maintain his efforts to create a world free of nuclear weapons by asking both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states for cooperation, and by showing world leaders and young people the painful reality of radiation exposure.

During the ceremony, a message from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also read out by a representative.

Today, the world needs the hibakusha spirit more than ever,” at a time when “global tensions are rising” and progress on nuclear disarmament is “hard to find,” the message said, adding that nuclear powers “have special responsibility to prevent another Hiroshima,”

Ban urged all nations to “find common ground through inclusive dialogue.”

The ceremony was attended by representatives from 91 nations, including recognized nuclear weapons states such as Britain, France, the United States and Russia. The European Union was also represented.

The number of hibakusha stood at 174,080 as of March, and their average age was just over 80 years old.

Eerie images inside Fukushima’s exclusion zone five years after the nuclear disaster

Malaysian-born Loong said: 'The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn't even pack or take anything valuable with them' 

Daily Mail UK:

More than five years after the devastating tsunami and the 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck north-eastern Japan, causing the explosion of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the Japanese town remains abandoned.

Since April 22, 2011, an area within 20km (12.4miles) radius of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant has been cordoned off from the public and listed as the red exclusion zone.

But now, Malaysian photographer Keow Wee Loong has entered into the exclusion zone to capture these eerie images.

Malaysian-born Loong said: ‘The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn’t even pack or take anything valuable with them

 Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima

Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima

There was also an empty DVD shop, full of discs dating back to 2011 - a reminder of the 150,000 people were forced to leave There was also an empty DVD shop, full of discs dating back to 2011 – a reminder of the 150,000 people were forced to leave.

Among the locations Loong explored during his time inside Fukushima, there was an empty supermarket full of merchandise dating back to 2011

The urban explorers wore masks as they entered abandoned houses, like this one in Futaba, that's untouched since the disaster in 2011
The urban explorers wore masks as they entered abandoned houses, like this one in Futaba, that’s untouched since the disaster in 2011

Clean laundry left half in washing machines show the panic that followed the disaster
 Clean laundry left half in washing machines show the panic that followed the disaster and there were plenty of valuables left untouched.
Loong explored various shops where valuables were left untouched

Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima – Tomioka, Okuma, Namie and Futaba – in June this year with friends Sherena Ng and Koji Hori.

They were evacuated after the disaster on March 11, 2011, when a 50ft wave swamped the sea wall at the nuclear power plant, sparking equipment failures and allowing radioactive materials to escape.

It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and the towns have been completely untouched by humanity since then.

Loong’s images give an eerie insight into the panic that followed the disaster and show a city stuck in time as calendars remain on the same date, families’ clean washing is partially-removed from dryers and newspapers forever remain unsold.

Malaysian-born Loong said: ‘The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn’t even pack or take anything valuable with them.

‘If you visit any boutique or shopping mall in these towns, you will see the merchandise exactly where it was since 2011, nothing has been changed or moved.’

For urban explorer Loong, the abandoned sites were most disturbing as traffic lights were still working but there were no cars on the roads
The city of Fukushima was evacuated suddenly after the east coast of Japan was devastated by a massive earthquake followed by a huge tsunami
The packaged goods left on the shelf

The urban explorers entered the so-called ‘red zone’ – the site of maximum radiation – in the middle of the night to avoid being caught by the police.

Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with shops full of merchandise, including newspapers and magazines, dating back to 2011

Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with shops full of merchandise, including newspapers and magazines, dating back to 2011

Loong added: ‘I even found money laying around the pachinko parlour, books dating back to 2011, gold and other valuables all still in place.

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air.

Loong explained: ‘The radiation level in the red zone could go as high as 4.8mSv – 6.5 mSv according to the reading on the electronic signboard on the road.

‘Upon arrival in the red zone, I could smell chemicals and felt a burning sensation in my eyes.’

The urban explorers entered the so-called ‘red zone’ – the site of maximum radiation – in the middle of the night to avoid being caught by the police.

He said: ‘Due to the high level of radiation, the town was filled with police so we had a limited amount of time to explore everything in all four towns. We entered the red exclusion zone in the dark around 1am, to avoid attention from the cops.’

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air 

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air.

Loong visited four towns - Tomioka, Okuma, Namie and Futaba - in June this year with friends Sherena Ng and Koji Hori 

Loong said: 'When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted'

Loong said: ‘When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted’

The urban explorers walked along an abandoned train station in Futaba, Fukushima, which was eerily devoid of life

The urban explorers walked along an abandoned train station in Futaba, Fukushima, which was eerily devoid of life. Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with outlets full of merchandise dating back to 2011 – a reminder of the 150,000 people that were forced to leave the area following the disaster.

He said: ‘When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted.

‘I always had a childhood dream of going into a mall alone when it is empty, so my dream came true, it was like deja vu, everything is exactly the way it is since 2011, the books marked with 2011, DVD movies of 2011.

‘This was one of the creepiest things I have ever seen, I have been to many places, but nothing like Fukushima, the traffic lights are still operating but there are no cars around.

‘It all reminded me of the movie I Am Legend, like stepping foot into a post-apocalyptic city.

Announcing the Yuri Kochiyama Fellowship

Medium.com (by Anoop Prasad):

Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus is excited to announce a new fellowship for formerly incarcerated Asian Pacific Islanders. Too often, the movements against prisons and deportation are out of sync and ignore the intersectional experiences of people in both systems. Advocates often make decisions without inviting formerly incarcerated people into the conversation and without consulting people who are locked up. Through the Yuri Kochiyama Fellowship, we hope to begin changing that. By centering and building leadership among directly impacted people, we hope to support a movement led by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.

Over the next several months, the first two Yuri Kochiyama Fellows will be using their experiences to advocate for changes to America’s incarceration and deportation systems. As people who have spent years in prison and immigration detention, their voices and leadership are sorely needed in the movement.

We chose to name the fellowship after Yuri Kochiyama. She was a tireless political activist who dedicated her life to social justice and human rights for almost five decades. Yuri spent two years as a young adult in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans in Arkansas during World War II. Later in life, she worked with Malcolm X, the Harlem Parents Committee, the Black Panthers, the Young Lords and other groups. Throughout her life, she supported people in prison by exchanging letters, advocating for their release, and organizing support committees.

Our first two Fellows will carry on Yuri’s legacy by using their experiences in prison and immigration detention to advocate for those still locked up. Their first advocacy project will be in support of a ballot measure that limits the ability of District Attorneys to charge children as adults. The reforms will keep thousands of children from being sent to prison for decades and from facing deportation for those crimes.

Rajeshree Roy, a 2016 Yuri Kochiyama Fellow, was arrested at the age of fifteen for a robbery. Rather than receiving services as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who was homeless, she was tried as an adult and sent to prison for fifteen years. She would later spend a year in immigration detention.

Aelam Khensamphanh, a 2016 Yuri Kochiyama Fellow, fled war in Laos and came to the United States as a refugee when he was eight-years-old. His family was resettled in Modesto, a poor community plagued with violence. Unable to speak English and without language services, he struggled in school as a child. Attempting to fit in, he joined a gang at fifteen. After a shootout with a rival gang, he was sent to prison for life at the age of seventeen. While in prison, Aelam worked with the Squires Program to intervene with at-risk youth. After serving twenty-two years in prison, he spent months in immigration detention before being released earlier this year.

Aelam and Rajeshree will be working to make sure that future generations of children will not go through the same cycle of trauma, incarceration, and deportation that they did.

Japan Archives: New website looks back on 150 years of modern Japanese history

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RocketNews 24 (by Cara Clegg):

A new website looks back on 150 years of modern Japanese history in visual format.

Japan Archives went live on June 30th and contains a treasure trove of information on modern Japanese history from the Bakumatsu through the Meiji and Taisho eras and up to the present day, covering everything from politics and economics to sport, nature, and the everyday life of the people.

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Who even needs museums anymore when you can now experience the most important events in the country’s history through photographs, posters, postcards, woodblock prints, and other visual media from the comfort of your own home.

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While only available in Japanese, the site is conveniently organized by time period and genre, making it user-friendly and easy to browse.

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There’s a wealth of historical media to sift through, and even if you can’t read the Japanese captions you can still enjoy the nostalgic images which bring the samurai and geisha of the past to vibrant life on your screen. And best of all, it’s all freely accessible!

Follow this link to see more.