Friday, April 22, 2016

On the Road: Two Migrant Workers in South Korea

On The Road
A Film by Changhee Chun
Fulbright Senior Researcher, Ithaca College

Fulbright Forums Presents: "During the last decade, one of the greatest social changes in South Korea has been the development of a multicultural society with increasing numbers of migrant workers. However, the population of unskilled laborers from South Asia is very much an invisible minority in Korea. The only time this population is mentioned is when a crime is committed by someone in this community, or to say that areas where large numbers of South Asians live are dangerous and should be avoided. Little is known about the “Korean Dream” of better opportunities that these people pursue after leaving their motherland. On the Road follows Moazzem and Maruf, two migrant workers from Bangladesh, who did not have any other alternative than to leave their country in search of better opportunities in Korea. Moazzem and Maruf labor as small factory migrant workers in rural Korea, sacrificing their lives in Bangladesh in hope of helping their families and themselves survive.

On the Road profiles these two as they journey in a foreign-land in quest of their individual “Korean Dream.” The film chronicles their personal journeys of difficulties and witnesses some of the sacrifices they have to make in their daily lives as migrants, such as working and living in undesirable conditions, struggle with language barriers, and separation from their families. The unskilled laborers migrant community in Korea is doing their best to find happiness and success in a society different from their own, away from home, filled with the ups and downs of life. While hope of acceptance, harmony, and co-prosperity persists for Moazzem and Maruf in Korea, one cannot deny that for now their paths toward their dreams are not without turbulence.

The film serves as an ethnographic observation of the daily lives of migrant laborers in Korea—allowing the audience to not only relate to the struggles towards success migrants endure, but also reflect on their own pursuit of success. No different from the audience, migrant laborers too are just ordinary people, traveling down the road toward their dreams. Whether one is a migrant laborer or not, our lives are journeys on an unpaved road filled with obstacles and challenges that we must overcome to reach a destination of success. On the Road gives the audience a view into an alternative road that may not be all too different from their own."
  • Migrant Workers Center in Korea (Pastor Hae-sung Kim)
  • Korea Support Center for Foreign Workers
  • National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK)
  • Hanyang University
  • Sungkyul University

"On the Road" follows the same theme of migrant workers in South Korea as his previous documentary "Lost Baggage" (2009).  "Lost Baggage" deals with the lives and struggles of migrant workers in South Korea, their efforts to create change and the complex legal situations many have faced since the early 1990s, when South Korea saw the first influx of migrant workers to the country. 

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