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Morning Dew – The stigma of being “brainwashed” (2020)

Cast:  Hikari Waza (和座 彩) , Manabu Ishikawa, Harunori Kojima
Director of Photography:  Yukiko Iioka
Music:  Stace Constantinou, Anastasia Vronski
Technical cooperation:  RAM Association (Graduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts)
Installation: Issei Yamagata
Support: Kawamura Arts and Cultural Foundation, Socially Engaged Art Support Grant (SEA)
Photos by Yuki Kasama

Archive image contribution:
Jane Jin Kaisen
一般財団法人 宮本記念財団
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Special thanks to:
北朝鮮難民救援基金 (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees)

New Release

Morning Dew: The Experience

This film was produced, directed, and shot by Cornell student filmmakers:
Shania Gumbac Bravo and Shuqian Lyu
Edited by Shania Gumbac Bravo
Executive produced by Amala Lane, Media Producer East Asia Program

Co-sponsored by the Cornell East Asia Program,
The Herbert F. Johnson Museum
Cornell Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and the Cornell Migrations Initiative
Thanks to the staff at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum:
Jessica Levin Martinez, Director
Ellen Avril, Chief Curator and Judith H. Stoikov Curator of Asian Art
Elizabeth Saggese, Administrative Assistant for Education
Holly Fairlie-Smith, Chief of Security and Special Events Coordinator
Luke Andrews, Assistant to the Chief of Security and Events Coordinator

and the staff of the Cornell East Asia Program: Jeremy Wallace, Director
Alice Yeh, Program Manager
Sydni Tung, Administrative Assistant
and special thanks to:
Joshua Young, Administrative Manager, Asian Studies, Cornell

Soni Kum, artist
Hiroki Yamamoto, artist
Kazuya Takagawa, artist
Alyssa Kamath, Migrations Studies Major, Cornell
Daniel Bernstein, Government Major, Cornell
Frances Gregor, Architecture Major, Cornell
Brett De Bary Professor Emeritus, Asian Studies and Comparative Literature, Cornell
Rebecca Jennison, Art Historian, Author, Professor, Kyoto Seika University
Soyi Kim, LB Korean Studies Research Scholar, Cornell East Asia Program
Naoki Sakai, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Asian Studies, Cornell



46判 並製 852頁
ISBN:978-4-86503-175-1 C0070

第1章 虚構としての〈日本美術史〉|加藤弘子・富澤ケイ愛理子/マユンキキ/菊池裕子
第2章 脱帝国の美術史(1)|嶋田美子/中嶋泉/吉良智子
第3章 脱帝国の美術史(2)|飯山由貴/長津結一郎/穂積利明
第4章 天皇(制)をめぐって|北原恵/千葉慶/小泉明郎
第5章 戦後アジアを再考する|馬定延/琴仙姫/大坂紘一郎/山本浩貴
第6章 〈近代〉を問い直す|國盛麻衣佳/小金沢智/足立元
第7章 レイシズムを可視化する|吉國元/山本浩貴/小田原のどか

Recent Exhibitions and Events

Subterranean Histories:
Screen / Art / Performance
, University of Minnesota

“Color Blind” audio/visual installation
Feb. 23, 1:30-3:00pm
412 Pillsbury Hall
Installation by Soni Kum, multimedia artist and spring 2024 Visiting Chair in Asian Studies. We are living on top of the layers of human’s repeated mistakes. Consisting of soil, ash, sand, and sound, the stratum is a metaphor for the accumulation and repetition of human violence that lie beneath the convenience of our everyday lives in modern society. Paired with Kum’s readings of passages from Toni Morrison’s novels, “Color Blind” offers an homage to the countless lives that have been erased and buried in all corners of the world.

the CAA 112th Annual Conference

Between History and Recollection: Asia-Pacific War Memory in Contemporary Japanese Art

Presentation: “2)Memories of War, Soil and Animal Slaughter: Soni Kum’s Colorblind (2023)”

CHAIR: Ayelet Zohar, Tel Aviv University

DISCUSSANT: Rebecca S. Jennison

Korean Diaspora Films and New Media Series: Artist Talk with Soni Kum
Thu. September 7 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Reception at 5:30 pm | Artist talk and screening of “Morning Dew” 6:00-7:30 pm, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Department of Art and Art History and the Carolina Asia Center of UNC-Chapel Hill are proud to welcome Soni Kum as a Hanes Visiting Artist in Fall 2023. Soni Kum is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in Tokyo, Japan as a third-generation Korean. Please join us for a talk by the artist and a screening of “Morning Dew.”

Directors Kim Dong-ryung & Park Kyoung-tae (of The Pregnant Tree and the Goblin and Tour of Duty) and Soni Kum (of Beast of Me and Dear Dear) will show their latest works and answer questions afterward. Kim & Park will give the audience the first glimpse of their new film, still in progress, Melancholic Summer (working title). Kum will exhibit her three-channel installation film, Morning Dew: The Stigma of Being “Brainwashed” (2020).

  • Date and Time: Saturday, June 24, 2023, 19:00-21:30
  • Venue: Humanities Korea Hall, Room B101, KNU

AAS-in-Asia Conference 2023
(Association for Asian Studies)

  • Panel Title: Archive Effects in East Asia: Thinking across Theory and Practice with Artists and Researchers
  • Date and Time: Saturday, June 24, 2023, 10:00-11:50 AM
  • Venue: Humanities Korea Hall, Room 101, KNU

More details:

Organized by Han Sang KIM Ph.D. Associate Professor of Sociology, Ajou University, and Shota Ogawa Ph.D. Graduate School of Letters, Nagoya University

February 1st to June 11, 2023


at Cornell University, NY, USA


Organized by Brett de Bary , Joshua Young, and Amala Lane

Curated by Ellen Avril


The Cornell East Asia Program (EAP)
The Pola Art Foundation

From 1959 to 1984, more than ninety thousand Zainichi Koreans (ethnic Koreans resident in Japan) were repatriated by the Japanese and North Korean government to North Korea, a program of deportation that was couched as a humanitarian effort but was driven by Cold War politics. The so-called “returnees,” convinced they were moving to a “paradise on earth,” faced a harsh reality in North Korea that compelled some of them to defect. Those “ex-returnees” now living again in Japan hide the fact that they defected from North Korea due to fear of ongoing discrimination within the Zainichi community and worries for their relatives who remain in North Korea. Stigmatized as having been “brainwashed” by the totalitarian North Korean government, they live an invisible existence in Japan.

This exhibition is a collaborative effort of artists Soni Kum, Hiroki Yamamoto and Kazuya Takagawa, and Nobuaki Takekawa with curator Yumiko Okada that was first initiated from 2019 to 2020. Based on personal encounters with sixteen former “returnees” or their descendants, the three installations presented here artistically evoke the hidden stories of these former “returnees.”

The project was made possible by generous financial support from a Kawamura Arts and Cultural Foundation, Socially Engaged Art Support Grant, and from the Pola Art Foundation.

Special thanks go to Brett de Bary, Professor Emerita in the Department of Asian Studies at Cornell, and Rebecca Jennison, Professor Emerita at Kyoto Seika University, for their efforts to bring this project to Cornell. The exhibition was curated by Ellen Avril, chief curator and the Judith H. Stoikov Curator of Asian Art, and supported in part by the Jarett F. Wait, Class of 1980, and Younghee Kim-Wait Endowment for Korean Arts at the Johnson Museum. The exhibition and symposium are supported by a grant from the Cornell Council for the Arts and cosponsored by the East Asia Program of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

March 24 – May 20, 2023

KANTEN 観展: The Limits of History

291 Church St, New York, NY 10013, United States
Curated by Eimi Tagore-Erwin

soil, ash, sand, sound

KANTEN 観展 is a play on the Japanese kanji for 観点 kanten, perspective, and 展覧会 tenrankai, art exhibition—coming together to indicate an exhibition of perspectives. KANTEN examines Japan’s expansionism during the Asia Pacific war from an array of viewpoints, exposing the considerable ways in which the past can be visualized and remembered.

The seven artists featured in this multimedia exhibition navigate, reevaluate, and process generational memory—creating artworks that delve into complex issues that have long been established as “history.” Together, these artists demonstrate very distinctive approaches to both the material and immaterial traces of wartime displacement and imperial subjectivization, the blurring of national boundaries, as well as the role of the US in the aftermath of the Asia Pacific War. By juxtaposing their work with a collection of original Japanese wartime postcards, KANTEN aims to reveal the limits of memory, narrative, and testimony.

With nationalism and neoliberal patriotism on the rise around the globe, it is becoming more urgent to explore art’s power to both construct and dismantle national histories. As one of the first US exhibitions on this subject, KANTEN broadens the resistance against an enduring reluctance to confront the underside of history—especially when it paints a disturbing picture. 

  • artists:
    Bontaro Dokuyama
    Taro Furukata
    Soni Kum
    Ken Okiishi
    Haji Oh
    Motoyuki Shitamichi
    The East Asia Image Collection, Lafayette College

Eimi Tagore-Erwinis a doctoral candidate of East Asian Studies at New York University and an emerging curator. Her research focus is contemporary Transpacific art engaging with colonial history, memory, and politics. She recently curated Floating Monuments: Motoyuki Shitamichi at Alison Bradley Projects and is a 2023 Curatorial Fellow at the Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation. She was a 2021 Wikipedia Fellow for PoNJA-Genkon and Asia Art Archive in America, where she focused on Japanese artists who have faced censorship.

Recent Publication

March 15th, 2023

『朝露 ―日本に住む脱北した元「帰国者」と アーティストとの共同プロジェクト』
共著:竹川宣彰、山本浩貴、高川和也、毛利嘉孝、岡田有美子、近藤健一、松村美穂、鄭 暎惠、島貫泰介、レベッカ・ジェニスン、笹山大志、崔 敬華、李 静和(掲載順)




Past Exhibitions and Events

March 30th, 2023


Please Join Us!

On March 30th, alongside the Tisch Asian Film and Media Initiative, EAS will co-host the Special Screening and Artist Talk with Soni Kum. Soni Kum is an artist who works across a variety of media, including film and video, installation, performance, writing, photography, drawing, and dance. Her recent projects include Morning Dew: A collaborative project between the artist and ex- “returnees” who defected from North Korea to Japan. We hope to see you there!

The special screening will be followed by a panel discussion with EAS Ph.D. students Eimi Tagore-Erwin, Kyle Nowak, and Professor Rebecca Jennison (Professor Emerita, Kyoto Seika University.)


Special Screening and Artist Talk

March 25th, 2023

“Morning Dew” Symposium:
Borders, Visibility, and Invisibility

SATURDAY, MAR 25, 2023

Featuring performance and video artist Soni Kum and her collaborators Hiroki Yamamoto and Kazuya Takagawa, this symposium will address themes of borders, visibility, and invisibility in relation to the Johnson Museum’s current exhibition Morning Dew: The Stigma of Being“Brainwashed,” Kum’s inaugural installation in the United States.

The artists’ video works, based on interviews with Zainichi Koreans who were repatriated to North Korea but later defected, bring visibility to the entangled borders they have crossed and recrossed, and their hidden lives in Japan today.  Having returned to Japan, they are now compelled to hide the fact that they left, or fled from, North Korea, threatened with discrimination and other troubling consequences. Facing these fears of her interviewees, Kum’s installation weaves together archival images, text, and silences to artistically evoke their hidden stories. In their video work, Yamamoto and Takagawa delve into the dream of one “ex-returnee.” The first part of the symposium will feature the artists discussing their own work in conversation with symposium moderator Brett de Bary.

In the second part, panelists Iftikhar Dadi (Cornell), Rebecca Jennison (Seika University, Kyoto), Soyi Kim (LB Korean Studies Research Scholar, Cornell) and discussant Naoki Sakai(Cornell) will consider the way modern borders, underlain by layered histories of violence, forcefully produce both the visibility, but also the invisibility, of social groups. How have contemporary artists engaged this dialectic of visibility and invisibility in their own work? Drawing on a broad and varied range of materials, how do such “material” media evoke silence and invisibility?

Cosponsored by the POLA Art Foundation, Japan; the East Asia Program and the Mario Einaudi Center for International StudiesCornell Migrations Initiative; and the Cornell Council for the Arts.

March 10th, 2023

UCLA, Darren Star Screening Room, Melnitz Hall , Los Angeles CA

Screening and Artist Q&A with Soni Kum

The Morning Dew (2020)

The Testimony (Hiroki Yamamoto & Kazuya Takagawa, 2020)

Organized by Junko Yamazaki

Sponsored & supported by: UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, UCLA Center for Korean Studies, UCLA Center for the Advancement of Teaching

March 8th, 2023

Organized by André Keiji Kunigami
Assistant Professor, Department of Film and Media Studies
University of California, Irvine

March 9th, 2023

The event will involve a screening of *exerpts* of two of Soni Kum’s films, Kwangjoo is Impeaching and Morning Dew followed by a roundtable discussion with Professor John Kim (Comparative Literature) and two Comparative Literature graduate students, Eun-Joo Lee and Soon-Young Lee moderated by Professor Setsu Shigematsu (Media & Cultural Studies).

March 7th, 2023

Organized by Andrea Mendoza, PhD

Assistant Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature
Department of Literature
University of California, San Diego

Past Exhibitions

September 24th, 25th 2022

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
DMZ-POV 금선희: 일본을 넘어 경계를 묻는 재일조선인의 체현 예술

Curated by So Hye Kim
Organized by Hyeshin Alex Han
Presentation by Hiroki Yamamoto, Shota Ogawa, Minhwa An, So Hye Kim

July 29th, 2022


日時:2022年7月29日(金) 19:30-
会場:Art Center Ongoing 1階カフェ

『はなせないことをはなす -CRITICAL IMPULSE TALK SERIES-』は、現場のライブ感を大切にすることをコンセプトに、オンライン配信を一切行わず会場に来た人たちだけがリアルタイムのトークを間近で体験する連続トークシリーズです。

小川希、Pol Maló、針谷周作 共同ディレクション

March 4, 2022

On Art Project “Morning Dew”: Memories, Dreams, Voices of the North Korean “Ex-Returnees” in Japan


March 4, 2022, 13:30-17:00, at Aichi Arts Center (Art Space A)

3月4日 13:30~17:00、愛知芸術文化センター アートスペースA

日本に住む脱北した元「帰国者」の記憶・夢・声:アートプロジェクト『朝露』Feb 8 3

In this hybrid bilingual event (in-person and online / Japanese and English), we invite artists Soni Kum, Hiroki Yamamoto, and Kazuya Takagawa to discuss Art Project “Morning Dew,” a product of the artists’ collaboration with North Korean defectors living in Japan which was first exhibited in Tokyo in November 2020. Among the roughly 200 North Korean defectors in Japan, many are “ex-returnees,” or members of the tens of thousands of Resident Koreans and their families who had left Japan for North Korea from 1959 until 1984. Winner of Kawamura Arts and Cultural Foundation’s Socially Engaged Art Grant, Kum’s project involved the artists to visit, talk with, and jointly work on creating their work with members of the “ex-returnees” whose migratory trajectories cut across East Asia’s colonial, postcolonial, and Cold War fissures.

If, as anthropologist Xiang Biao has noted, words such as return and returnees are far from ideologically neutral, but rather naturalizing and normalizing categories that effectively turn what is otherwise heterogeneous, contingent, and unfinished migratory trajectories into a governable pattern, what roles might art play in suspending their regulatory work and making space for alternative ways of seeing, hearing, and feeling?

This event will consist of a screening of the three artists’ video works that were first exhibited in Kitasenju BUoY, Nov 5 – Nov 10, 2020, which will be followed by a workshop.

『証言 』 Testimony

(with English subtitles, 2020, 24min, 山本浩貴/Hiroki Yamamoto, 高川和也/Kazuya Takagawa)

『朝露』  Morning Dew‒ The stigma of being “brainwashed”

(with bilingual subtitles, 2020, 60mins, 3-channel video work, 琴仙姫/Soni Kum)

In-person attendance is open to the public (no pre-registration necessary). Online participation is in principle limited to within Nagoya University (register here / for special considerations on online access please contact the hosts at )

Organized by Shota Ogawa and Ma Ran / Co-sponsored by programs in Screen Studies, G30 Japan-in-Asia Cultural Studies, Nagoya University

This project and associated research was in part funded with JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 21K12899 & JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 18K12263

April 2, 2021

Image, Stories, and Silences of “Ex-Returnees” Who Defected from North Korea to Japan: Artist Talk with Soni Kum

                                        Cornell University, East Asia Program

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Friday, April 2, 2021 at 10:00am to 11:30am (NY, EST)

Kum will discuss her installation work, Morning Dew-The Stigma of Being “Brainwashed” exhibited in Tokyo in November, 2020. It is based on interviews conducted with North Korean ex-“returnees”  now living in Tokyo. Most are  zainichi Koreans (“ethnic Koreans resident in Japan”) or their children, who from 1959 to 1984 moved to North Korean as part of the Repatriation Program. They thought  the DPRK was ‘a paradise on earth,’ only to experience the severe living conditions of North Korea’s recovery from the Korean War.  They are compelled to hide the fact that they left, or fled from, North Korea, or experience discrimination and other troubling consequences. Facing these fears of her interviewees, Kum’s work weaves together archival images, text, and silences to artistically evoke their hidden stories.

Discussants include Brett de Bary, Professor Emerita, Cornell, and Rebecca Jennison, Art Critic, Kyoto, Japan.

This event is co-sponsored by the Central New York Humanities Corridor from an award by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This event is also co-sponsored by the Migrations initiative and the Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS).

Vimeo documentation

The Cornell Chronicle published an article about an upcoming talk

Artist Soni Kum to share stories of North Korean defectors
By Megan DeMint | March 24, 2021

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still images from Offering, seven boats,  Installation and performance Ghost/ Resurrection/ Emergence, 2017, Der Mainbleu, Berlin, Germany

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Study of Korean War Film, 1:00:42 sec, Colour, Sound, 2017

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still images from Offering, seven boats, performance, 2015, South Korea

energy drawing series2
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Energy Drawing Series

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still images from Heaven’s Gate, reconciliation, performance/ Installation, 2014, Busan Biennale, South Korea