Thursday, June 13, 2013

Break the Chains - Rebooted

This past Sunday I was originally booked to leave Korea and begin looking for work in the United States. But, after a series of serendipitous events and some long talks with my mom and my girlfriend, I've decided to stay in Korea until August. Here's why...

Over a year ago I met a group of people that were doing something truly ambitious: tackling the issue of human trafficking and prostitution in Korea. They're part of an English church called Onnuri English Ministry (OEM), led by an ambitious Pastor named Eddie Byun (here's a link to some of his sermons). I was introduced to OEM and Pastor Eddie through a network of friends and, through some video work I did for them, was brought on to work on a documentary covering this issue domestically in Korea.

The next couple of months I would go and shoot some weekend interviews with women who were involved in the industry and the people trying to help them. As much as I hate to admit it, at that time I was very uninformed about human trafficking and prostitution. In my spare time I would try my best to research the subject and become a more informed citizen. I wrote a bit about it in my blog, read some books, and talked to people about how terrible something like this can happen right under our noses. Even Korea and many other developed nations, it's socially accepted. It sickened me.

And yet, as a 23 year old just trying to survive the professional world for a while, I let the issue slide. I got lazy in my activism. I had the power to do something good and let it slip away, excusing myself because I 'didn't have the time'.

As I quickly approached the end of my time at my video job in Korea, I was approach again by OEM. They told me that they had made some strides in their fight for justice in this country with their own groups like Hope Be Restored, garnering attention of the the international anti-trafficking community. They also told me that they had collected some more interviews and that this documentary was still on, and that they wanted me on board to help.

It couldn't have come at a better time. I was in between, wondering what really brings me fulfillment in my life and questioning the moves I have made up to this point. I had forgotten the reason why film fascinated me: it has the tremendous power to make a difference. It sparks debate and dialogue about subjects that frequently get lost in the jumble of other issues we tend to face. It's in those conversation that the seeds of change begin to grow.

After some conversations with my family and some meditation and prayer, I decided to go in and finish this film we had started nearly a year and a half ago. Over the next 2 months, I'll be structuring this film based off of the very honest and vivid testimonies given by the women who, above all others, deserve a voice on this issue of prostitution and human trafficking. It is modern day slavery, and the developed world needs to take notice and deliver justice. As William Wilberforce once said,
You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.
I hope to share more information on what I'm researching concerning human trafficking, in particular how it manifests in Korea and the United States. Anything on the subject will fall under my "Break the Chains" series of posts. It's a multi-faceted issue affecting every nation on this earth, and I'll only scratch the surface with this blog and the documentary we're working on. But, like with any human rights movement, it requires individuals to take a first step. I saw and heard the stories of these women, and I cannot look the other way any longer. It's time to break the chains that bind our fellow man.