Morning Dew: The Stigma of Being “Brainwashed”

Soni Kum (Director), Stace Constantinou (Composer)

Research output: Non-Textual OutputDigital or Visual Media


Morning Dew is a collaborative project between artists and former North Korean returnees living in Japan. There are currently around 200 North Korean ex-returnees living in Japan. Many of them are Koreans living in Japan or their descendants who emigrated to North Korea as part of the “Repatriation Project” that took place from the late 1950s to the early 1980s. They believed in the reported fantasy of a “paradise on earth” and emigrated to North Korea. Most of them were Koreans from what is now South Korea. These “returnees” were then forced to live a harsh life in North Korea, which was in the midst of reconstruction from the Korean War. Former “returnees” living in Japan are forced to hide the fact that they have left North Korea. If they do not, they experience difficulties in their daily lives.

The project was initiated from 2019 to 2020 in collaboration with artist Hiroki Yamamoto + Takagawa Kazuya, and Nobuaki Takekawa, and curator Yumiko Okada. With the collaborative effort, we were able to meet 16 ex-returnees or their descendant based in Tokyo and Seoul during the course. Most of them hide their identities and live in Japan secretly. Needless to say, it was the first challenge to find and meet them.

Under these circumstances, each artist attempted to find and meet who are former ‘returnees’ from North Korea living in Japan. Each artist’s work, created through their personal encounters, was presented in the form of an exhibition and a symposium, which opened up a series of discussions.

The title of the project, “Morning Dew”, is a song sung by the South Korean student movement in the 80s, symbolizing the rebirth of something pure and beautiful after a dark night of the soul.

"Morning Dew" was presented with an accompanying artist talk as part of Soni Kum's residency at University of North Carolina on September 7th 2023.
Original languageMultiple languages
Media of outputFilm
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Stace Constantinou's music that has been used in Soni Kum's film Morning Dew: The Stigma of Being “Brainwashed”:

1) The First Law Suite (2017) five track EP
1. Prelu-Topia.
2. Unresolved Conflict.
3. Can't Scap(B)-(no)2 My Head.
4. Glowverse.
5. Input Complex.

2) Three Electronic Music Pieces
Electrorganic Landscape I (1999):

3) The electronic music piece "Fibonaccish" (2013).

Dates of Exhibitions, screenings and talks

THURSDAY, 1 February - 11 June 2023.
Johnson Museum of Art.
114 Central Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14853.

THURSDAY, MAR 30 2023.
Special Screening and Talk.
New York University (NYU).
50 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012, USA.

THURSDAY, MAR 25 2023.
Talk and Screening.
Johnson Museum of Art.
114 Central Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Thursday March 9th, 2023.
Screening and Round Table Discussion.
University of California, Riverside (UCR).
Department of Comparative Literature and Foreign Languages.
2401 HMNSS Building.
Riverside, CA 92521.

Wednesday March 8th, 2023.
Talk and Screening.
University of California, Irvine (UCI).
Irvine, CA 92697.

Tuesday March 7th, 2023.
University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0021.

September 24th, and 25th 2022.
9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0021.
14th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival (DMZ Docs).

DMZ-POV Special Exhibition of Soni KUM:
Embodied Art of a Zainichi Korean, Questioning the Borders Beyond Japan.

November 20, 2020.
2020, BUoY, Tok
49-11, Senju-Nakacho, Adachi-ku, Tokyo.


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