A Juilliard-trained violinist is closer than ever
to realizing his unwavering pursuit of the last 7 years —
to bring North and South Koreans together
straddling their uncrossable border
for a first-ever joint concert.
Hyungjoon Won, a Juilliard-trained violinist, is closer than ever to realizing his pursuit of the last seven years: a joint concert by North and South Korean musicians. Due to prohibitions in cross-border movement, musicians from the two sides would straddle the 38th Parallel, the most militarized border in the world. It is where soldiers stand mere feet apart, ready to resume battle at a moment’s notice (the Korean War never officially ended).
In the week leading up to the concert, inspired musicians gather from around the world to Seoul to partake in the effort; however, military aggression, geopolitical paralysis, and apathy threaten to derail a dream that many called crazy to begin with — and pursued at great sacrifice.
In recent days, news about North Korea have taken a dramatic, if temporary, turn with hour-by-hour alerts of North-South Korean cooperation and goodwill in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. But I cannot forget that what was said to me as recently as a month ago by US military contacts: “If I were you, I’d get my family out of Seoul.”
Experts have estimated the probability of preventive war with North Korea to be anywhere between 25% and 70%. Senator Tammy Duckworth, a veteran of the Iraq War, warns “We are far closer to actual conflict over North Korea than the American people realize. Everything we’re doing shows a military that, in my personal opinion, has turned the corner.”
Violence has been justified by the likes of Senator Lindsey Graham with statements devoid of empathy: “If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die over here.”
“Over there” is where my family, friends, colleagues, and 75 million other Koreans reside. That is roughly the same population as Texas, California, and Pennsylvania combined.
In America, discourse on the Korean “situation” is pitifully one-dimensional. The Cold War divided many families — like those of violinist Hyungjoon Won and myself — for 7 decades now and counting. It is why Won chose Beethoven’s 9th Symphony for a joint performance: “Thy magic reunites those Whom stern custom has parted All men will become brothers.“
We humbly believe our film ‘9 at 38’ can play an important role. I am convinced, from discourses continued by the audience outside the theater door after screenings to more than one student emailing me to reveal the film changed their professional plans, that Hyungjoon Won’s story can set off a domino effect. It educates and inspires. It challenges notions of „us versus them.“ And if nothing else, it calls to reduce tension for just one evening, with bows pointed to the sky instead of guns, in what is said to be the most militarized border in the world.
FILMMAKING TEAM BIOS
DIRECTOR CATHERINE KYUNGEUN LEE
Catherine Lee is an award-winning filmmaker and a humanitarian worker with experience in 17 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Born in South Korea, she dedicated her studies at Yale and Harvard universities and a decade of professional work to follow to what she considered global injustices.
Catherine saw social change projects fail over and over again. Concluding that human hearts must be moved, she left full-time employment to begin storytelling via film. In addition to 9 AT 38, her directorial debut, Lee has produced films for European and Asian broadcast outlets. Her latest independent project is a feature documentary about youth mobilizing to stop the war in South Sudan, „the world’s youngest and most broken country.“
Like violinist Won, Catherine believes music is a conduit to change. As a vocalist, she has sung in rallies, civil rights commemorations, and nonprofit fundraisers in and around Washington DC. In addition to filmmaking, Catherine consults to international organizations, most recently the UN and World Bank, as an impact evaluation specialist.
PRODUCER T.R. BOYCE, JR.
T.R. Boyce, Jr. is an award-winning producer who has worked with filmmakers ranging from Steven Spielberg to Mike Nichols, Frank Marshall, and Scott Rudin. An Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) Filmmaker Lab Alumni, a Trans-Atlantic Partners Fellow, and a Tribeca Film Festival All-Access Alum, Boyce produced the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival winning short, GABRIEL Y GATO. He followed up this success with Craig Abell-Champion’s festival rounding short NONPLUSSED. In 2013, Boyce completed his first feature, THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM, a foreign language drama set in southern Africa that won numerous awards including three Africa Movie Academy Awards. His film AMIRA & SAM was distributed by Drafthouse in 2015. He currently has a narrative film called THE YELLOW BIRDS starring Jennifer Aniston premiering at Sundance 2017 and has in development a Mexican/US production called ADAM’S APPLE, a US child welfare system film called RECESS and two television shows.
PRODUCER CIARA LACY
Ciara Lacy’s documentaries have shown in theaters as well as aired on Netflix, PBS, ABC, TLC, Discovery, Bravo and A&E. Her feature-length documentary OUT OF STATE premiered this June at the LA Film Festival and most recently won Best Documentary Feature Film at the Cayman International Film Festival. She is proud to say that she was one of 16 directors who worked on the film 11/8/16, which chronicles last year’s turbulent elections and is being distributed by the Orchard. After its premiere at LACMA this October, the film will go to theaters and Netflix on November 3rd. Ciara is honored to have been selected as the inaugural Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellow, Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab, the Sundance Institute and Time Warner Foundation, the Sundance Institute’s NativeLab, Tribeca All Access, the Princess Grace Foundation, and IFP. Ciara holds a BA from Yale University, and is a lecturer at the University of Hawaii West Oahu.
PRODUCER & EDITOR SARAH S. KIM
Sarah S. Kim was born in Busan, South Korea and now lives in New York. She received her BA at UCLA School of Theater, Film & TV for production and MFA from the City College of New York, where she studied under Chantal Akerman. She has produced features including an international co-production period feature shot in North Korea. Currently she is producing a Sundance Feature Film labs supported feature called I WAS A SIMPLE MAN. Previously, she worked as a screener in the programming committee for AFI Fest, the Sundance NHK award and Sundance Documentary Fund, and worked as program coordinator for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and the Korean American Film Festival New York. She has also worked as an assistant director and an editor for Mnet TV and Yahoo. She is a recipient of the Motion Pictures of America Association Award, Peter Stark Memorial Award, Armed With a Camera Fellowship, and the New York Women in Film & Television scholarship award.
EDITOR & CO-PRODUCER EUGENE YI
Eugene Yi is an award-winning editor, filmmaker and journalist. He has edited documentary and narrative feature films, including OUT OF MY HAND, which premiered at the 2015 Berlinale, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival; and FAREWELL FERRIS WHEEL, which premiered earlier this year at AFI Docs and was selected to be part of the 2014 Film Independent Documentary Lab. His video work has been featured in The New York Times, where he worked as a video editor, and at other online outlets, including Frontline and Deadspin. He served as assistant editor on INSIDE JOB (2010), which won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary. He is a native of Los Angeles and a graduate of Brown University.
CINEMATOGRAPHER CHAPIN HALL
Straddling the worlds of fiction and documentary filmmaking, Chapin is a Hawaii & Los Angeles based Cinematographer. Trained by legendary Bob Richman, Chapin has worked on feature films, commercials, and TV under some of the best directors of non-fiction film; from RJ Cutler, Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky, and Albert Maysles, to Academy Award winners such as Nathaniel Kahn, and Davis Guggenheim. An accomplished visual artist in several media before picking up a motion picture camera, Chapin seeks to craft visual language which is unique to each creative endeavor through an artistic approach to cinematography and deep trust for the collaborative spirit of film.
MUSIC SUPERVISOR JONATHAN ZALBEN
Jonathan Zalben’s music for film and television has been featured at Sundance, Slamdance, SXSW, Tribeca, Berlin, LA Film Festival, and AFI Docs. He has written music for documentaries including: Oscar-nominated REDEMPTION (HBO), THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD (Sony Pictures Classics), THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH AUNT DIANE (HBO), HOTEL 22 (New York Times Op-Docs), DOUBLETIME (Discovery), CITY OF BORDERS (ITVS), HOW I GOT OVER and THE PERFECT LIFE. Zalben received an MA in music composition and multimedia from New York University, a BA in music from Yale University, and studied violin and music composition at Juilliard Pre-College.
MUSIC COMPOSER JOSE GONZALEZ PALMA
Jose Gonzalez Palma is a composer, producer, and audio engineer in Brooklyn, NY. He has composed scores for several independent short films, online ad campaigns, fashion projects, and commercial music for other artists and bands. Originally from Venezuela, Jose has been working in music in the U.S. for over 15 years across a wide range of styles. Collaborating closely with director Catherine Lee on 9 AT 38, Jose wanted to express her precise vision and unmatched passion for the project and convey a message that resonates deeply with him due to similar political tensions existing in his home country Venezuela.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Y. MICHELE KANG
Michele Kang founded Cognosante in 2008 to transform the U.S. healthcare system through innovative IT solutions. Under her leadership, Cognosante has emerged as one of the most trusted partners to key Federal and state health agencies. In 2015, she was named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year and honored on the 2017 FedHealthIT100 list, recognized for driving change and advancement in the Federal health IT market. Consistent with Cognosante’s overall vision, Michele founded Cognosante Foundation to give back to the community, and she founded Cognosante Ventures to identify, invest in, and mentor early-stage health technology and data analytics companies. Ms. Kang received a BA in Economics from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Yale.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER JEFF HOFFMAN
Jeff enters his third career with the founding of a new entertainment and media company, Above the Clouds. Jeff was a clinical psychologist and researcher before he founded social impact consulting firm Danya International. As its CEO, he provided strategic leadership in public health communications and research, monitoring and evaluation, and training and technical assistance across the U.S. and East Africa. He is the co-author of the best-selling substance abuse treatment and relapse prevention program Living in Balance: Moving From a Life of Addiction to a Life of Recovery and co-developer of the Adolescent Smoking Cessation Escaping Nicotine and Tobacco (ASCENT) program. Jeff received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MA in Family Studies and Child Development from Stanford University, and BA in Liberal Arts from Michigan State University.