Between Breads and Noodles, Statement


Between Breads and Noodles

EunHa JO (GoEun Museum of Photography)

KIM Insook has continued to inquire the identity of those living in diverse cultures, and the history of such communities and their families. In her previous projects, she portrayed everyday lives and personal histories of the *Zainichi people who stand on the border between Korea and Japan, by showing their homes and the young students at 'UriHakkyo(Kita Osaka Chosen Elementary and Middle School)'. These projects tried to move away from the prejudiced views of ideology and intended to reveal the characteristics of each family and the identity of ZAINICHI Korean, which is a mixture of North Korean, South Korean, and Japanese cultures. This time in Between Breads and Noodles, KIM dives into the lives and identities of Koreans living in Germany.

About 20 thousand Koreans, mostly mine workers and nurses, were sent to Germany from 1963 until 1977 as part of a national campaign. Their hard work became the cornerstone of Korea's economic growth in the 1960s and 70s, known as the miracle of Han river. KIM Insook met with the Koreans who went to Germany with different dreams in their hearts--making money and sending it to their families back home, or living and studying abroad-- but have stayed there and never returned. The Koreans living in Germany who were miners and nurses, or some who came for their studies or as an immigrant, stand on a border that differs from the one observed in SAIESEO: between two Koreas and Japan (2008- ) and that of the ZAINICHI Korean. In particular, the identity of second and third generation Koreans who were born and raised in Germany and its culture is distinctively different from that of the first generation. They are influenced by both Germany and Korea but are free from the prejudice and ideology that are found from the ZAINICHI Korean and they also identify themselves as Germans. KIM Insook defines their identity as 'Asians in Europe'.

KIM explains the views towards Asians that she noticed in Germany and tells the stories of Koreans living as 'Asians in Europe' through the form of performance art. The performance was designed to have Europeans living in Germany examine a tower made from 2000 bags of instant noodles and choose one to taste it. Inside this tower of instant noodles there are more than 40 types of noodles imported from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. The tower of noodles may be a composition on the outside but in fact it is a device to show the diversity of Asians. By having Europeans choose and taste the noodles, KIM provided a chance for them to take a step closer to the Asians and a platform where they can become acquainted with each other's characteristics and become more familiar with one another.

The families of Koreans in Germany captured in KIM Insook's photographs and videos of Between Breads and Noodles are all wearing shoes inside the house like any German would, but you will find Korean identity in every corner of their lives. Their identity will change over the generations. Like KIM's performance shown in the exhibition, we will become closer to the actual lives of the Asians in Germany.

* 在日: ZAINICHI Koreans who migrated to Japan during the colonial era and settled there since. The term covers not only the first generation but their decedents as well.