For Whom the Bell Tolls (2017)
Sound and video installation
Double-channel video | 16:9 | HD | B&W | 9’01” | Stereo
After Second World War, the Mainland China film industry was being revitalised and reformatted based on People’s Republic of China cultural policy; by integrating small to medium scale film companies established by the Chinese Communist government, Kuomintang, Manchukuo (滿洲國) and Japanese, Changchun Film Studio Group Corporation (長春電影製片廠) became one of the representatives to produce official propaganda films under Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (中共中央宣傳部) in the post-war period. Battle on Shangganling Mountain (上甘嶺,1956, Dir. SHA Meng, LIN Shan) was the early film depicting Battle of Triangle Hill / Shangganling (上甘戰役嶺 |삼각 고지 전투). The film glorifies the heroic act of People’s Volunteer Army (中國人民志願軍) and its victory over United Nations Army in the Korean War in 1952; despite the number of casualties and bloody contest in the battle, the film featured poetic aspect of self-sacrifice of infantrymen, which was extensively edited with a montage of beautiful natural scenery along with the mountain range.
I visited Cheorwon-gun and DMZ for those nature scenery, though it is likely those nature shots were taken outside Korea or in China. By dusk, I arrived at a valley that was closed to Triangle Hill and also the border between South and North Korea. By that time, an announcement was made by the North Korean military, due to the geography of the valley, the sound echoed throughout the mountains, murmuring like a soliloquy. After getting a brief translation of that announcement, I reviewed my intention of such field research trip, which was an investigation of PRC patriotic and idealistic discourse through moving images; on the other hand, the North Korean public announcement creates a second layer onto the historical and political narrative, which fully demonstrates the tension between North and south, also shares a similar eloquent quality with Battle on Shangganling Mountain, but the conflict along by political and military manipulation exploded the hypocrisy of propaganda.
On the next day of my field research trip on 28 August 2017, North Korea launched intercontinental missiles to the east of Hokkaido, Japan; in the following week, Pyongyang declared a “great success” on Hydrogen Bomb test.