Back in April this year, we posted an advertisement seeking an actor for an upcoming short film about a young North Korean girl living in Britain.
That role, Mi Young, has now been filled – and she could almost have been born to take the role. Writer and director In-sook Chappell commented: “After meeting Mi Young I rewrote the ending as I felt in my gut that what she had told me was the ending of the film, I also wanted to give her a voice, to allow her to express herself in her own words and language.”
What’s the project?
We want to make a short film exploring the traumas of war.
A story of connection and healing, between a young North Korean refugee and an ageing Korean War veteran – ending on a note of understanding, compassion and hope.
It will be the first ever British-Korean film, telling the untold story of Korea’s “Forgotten War”. And it’s been written and will be directed by In-Sook Chappell, the writer of the critically acclaimed play P’yongyang.
What’s the story?
KOTCHEBI (꽃제비) translates as ‘wandering swallow’ – North Korean slang for the orphans who roam the streets searching for food.
The film follows an unlikely friendship between a mysterious young girl and a bereaved old man. On the surface, they have nothing in common, other than living on opposite sides of the same semi-detached house in a typical suburban cul-de-sac.
Mi Young is a North Korean refugee who doesn’t speak, and Ted is a Korean War veteran. Both are traumatised by memories of extreme violence and burdened with guilt.
Despite the language barrier, they form a deep emotional connection, finding redemption and healing in each other.
Part quiet suburban drama, part war film, KOTCHEBI combines the restraint of British cinema with the intensity of Korean cinema. Ambitious, surprising, political and moving.
Why does it matter?
As the story of a young refugee being taken in and shown compassion in Middle England, KOTCHEBI couldn’t be more timely or topical.
Much of what Mi Young has experienced – losing her family, her home, her country and witnessing atrocities – echoes the experiences of millions of Syrian children and other refugees and migrants today.
But it’s also the untold story of ‘The Forgotten War’. Between 1950 -1953 the UK sent 100,000 troops to fight in the Korean War, one of the most brutal conflicts in history – yet many know little about it. Mi Young’s silence serves as a metaphor for the voicelessness of North Korean women and girls.