Isang Yun – In Between North and South Korea | on Arte

22.01.2017 23h55

This documentary, directed by Maria Stodtmeier, filmed in North and South Korea, explores whether music can overcome the boundaries of a divided country. There is one figure of the two Koreas, whose outstanding biography in itself forms a bridge between both worlds: The Korean composer Isang Yun, one of the very few people acknowledged on both sides. The film traces the course of a life that has been interpreted in different ways.

It examins the worlds of North and South Korean music and in this way taking the viewer on an exciting journey through two political systems that Isang Yun spent his life trying to reconcile.

At first sight Germany and Korea have little in common, and yet the end of the Second World War ensured that both these countries, with their widely differing cultures, became scenes of conflict between two very different systems. Unlike Germany, Korea remains ideologically divided and as a result is one of the last places on earth where the Cold War continues to be waged. In spite of this there was one artist who was able to build a bridge between these cultures: the composer Isang Yun. Yun is one of the most interesting figures in the history of the two Koreas as he is one of the few people to be acknowledged on both sides of the 38th parallel. His music is now performed equally in North and South Korea. Each country has its own Isang Yun Festival and Chamber Orchestra, and his life and works are the object of scholarly research on both sides of the border. And yet there is almost no exchange of ideas between the two countries, each of which claims to have its own particular “truth” about this exceptional Korean musician.

This documentary retraces the trajectory of a life that has been interpreted in many different ways, taking the viewer into the worlds of North and South Korean music and accompanying us on an exciting exploration of two political systems between which Isang Yun spent his whole life trying to mediate from his base in Berlin.


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Special Mention for Extraordinary Artistic Achievement – Golden Prague 2013
Best Documentary – Mumbai International Film Festival 2014
Official Selection at International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) 2014
Official Selection at Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels (FIPA) 2014
Nominated for Grimme-Preis 2015

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