Film Screening – So Long Asleep
Date : 15 Nov 2017
Time : 15:00 - 17:00
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8, Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260

This event is jointly organised by Asia Research Institute, and Department of Japanese Studies, National University of Singapore.

Film Screening of So Long Asleep | 60 mins
Followed by Skype discussion with Project Co-Leader, Byung-Ho Chung and the Film's Producer-Director, David Plath


Assoc Prof Timothy Amos, Department of Japanese Studies, National University of Singapore


"So Long Asleep" chronicles the decades-long project of exhuming, memorializing, and finally repatriating the remains of 115 forced laborers from the Korean peninsula from several different worksites including the Uryu dam construction site in Hokkaido, Japan. A project begun by Jodo Shinshu priest Yoshihiko Tonohira with locals in the 1970s, it grew into a collaborative project in the 1990s which included lead physical anthropologist Sunjoo Park of Chungbuk University, Hanyang University anthropologist and social activist Byung-ho Chung, and Kichan Song, a media anthropologist at Ritsumeikan University who went as a student for the first group excavation at the Uryu Dam site. The project was an ongoing excavation and workshop that brought students from Japan and South Korea together in an effort to excavate not only remains, but histories, and in so doing create a community of awareness and mutual respect among the participants in the workshops. The film is a lyrical and haunting meditation on the ideas of return and closure, one that sensitively and thoughtfully addresses war memory, restitution, and the creation of communities not only to preserve memories but also to learn from them.


Byung-Ho Chung is Professor of the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Hanyang University, and president of the Korean Society for Cultural Anthropology, South Korea. For almost two decades, he has planned and practiced the excavations and repatriations of the remains of Korean forced labor victims in Hokkaido, Japan. He has also founded Steppingstones for Peace, a Korean NGO, which organizes the commemorative activities for national reconciliation and peace. His books and articles include, “North Korea: Beyond Charismatic Politics (with Heonik Kwon, 2012),” and “North Korean Refugees as Penetrant Transnational Migrants (Urban Anthropology, 2014).”

David Plath was first drawn into media production in the 1970s as a writer and member of the academic advisory panel for a project that created two semester-length TV courses on Japanese history and culture entitled, Japan: The Living Tradition and Japan: The Changing Tradition. During the 1990s, Plath worked with Jackson Bailey of Earlham College, developing the Center for Educational Media, a (pre-internet) database for teaching about Japan. They partnered with Japan’s National Institute for Media Education to produce two dozen video programs about contemporary Japan, and one about Thailand. After Bailey’s untimely death in 1996, the database was moved to the University of Illinois, where it was expanded into the Asian Educational Media Service ( Plath continued to write and produce educational films about Japan, which have been broadcast on PBS, and screened at academic meetings, colleges and universities, and film festivals worldwide. In 2000, The Society for East Asian Anthropology established the David Plath Media Award, given biennially for the best new educational media on East Asian societies and cultures. Plath has published six books on Anthropology and Japan Studies, and holds a PhD in Anthropology and Far Eastern Languages from Harvard University. He is an Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Admission is free, however seats are on a first-come, first-served basis. To indicate your interest to attend the event, click the ‘register’ button to RSVP.

Contact Person(s)
Minghua TAY