Hayoun Kwon is intrigued by the absurdity of borders, which are invariably created and enforced only by humans. For Kwon, the Korean Demilitarized Zone – a site permeated by propaganda and geopolitical tension – offers a perfect example of how nation-states are fundamentally artificial yet experienced as something real.
Hayoun Kwon (b. 1981) is a filmmaker and multimedia artist living between the US and South Korea. Her works have been screened at international short film festivals worldwide. She is acclaimed for employing diverse film techniques, such as thermal or scientific imaging, virtual reality, documentary, and digital animation. An underlining theme of her works is borderlines, limits, and borders which she explores through the notions of individual or collective memory. With this, she reveals the blurred lines between recollection and memory reconstitution, invention and testimony construction, intention and interpretation. Her films convey a duality of reality and fiction, and the space between historical truth and narrative truth.
Touched by a soldier’s story of landmines and flowers, Hayoun Kwon felt like she was herself visiting the dangerous place he described, the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Kwon’s animation 489 Years (2016) shows the landscape of the DMZ between North and South Korea based on the first-person narration of a former South Korean soldier who had entered the area. The DMZ was established in 1953 after the Korean War to serve as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. It is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that measures about four kilometres wide. The title refers to the vast number of landmines in the DMZ. It has been estimated that it would take 489 years to clear the area.