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Any Life Experience Is Worth the ShotLee-Kil Bo-ra

I went because I wouldn’t know unless I’d gone, and I ate it because I wouldn’t know unless I tried one. I touched it because I wouldn’t know unless I touched, and felt it directly because I wouldn’t know unless I did. It was Mom’s and Dad’s way. Instead of lips, they speak with their hands and face, and their knowledge is gained through bodily experience. Just trying it, going there, touching and feeling directly, because otherwise you wouldn’t know — this naturally also became my way of living (p. 8).

『Any Life Experience Is Worth the Shot』

Author : Lee-Kil Bo-ra
Publisher : Munhakdongne
Publication Date : August 18, 2020
Number of pages : 276
Format : 133x200mm
ISBN : 9788954673617

Lee-Kil Bo-ra

Writer and filmmaker, she made the feature-length documentary Glittering Hands about the world as seen through the eyes of her non-hearing parents, and the documentary Untold on the massacre of civilians by Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War. Her books include The Road is A School and Glittering Hands.

Even If You Waste Time And Waste Money, Experience Is Okay

 

This book is the working journal of a young female creator confronted with an unfamiliar world; as well as the record of the growth of a person facing, and breaking, the multiple layers of prejudice within her. Here we can glimpse how indie documentary film director and “road-schooler” Lee-Kil Bo-ra gains new insights through her life studying abroad in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The author is a hearing person born to deaf parents, or a “CODA” (child of deaf adult). Having acted since her childhood as the natural bridge between her parents’ sign language and the verbal language of the world, she has turned into someone who “carries the story,” seeing and feeling the boundaries between people and the world. Perhaps it was only to be expected that she’d refuse a life that would meekly follow the norms set by society. After dropping out of high school in her first year, and going backpacking all over Asia, she continued her education outside of the school community, which is documented in Road Schooler. The documentary film as well as book, Glittering Hands, looks at the world through the eyes of her non-hearing parents. Her questioning stance on what Korean society considers “normal” and on its norms in general, is what led to the conception of this body of work.

However, in the South Korean filmmaking environment, to continue working on documentaries has never been an easy affair. She starts wanting to expand her human network and explore the possibility of working in a new setting. So she sets her heart on studying at the Netherlands Film Academy in Amsterdam, but the costs involved are still difficult problems to solve. At that moment, a few words from her father free her from all hesitation: “Bora, experience is okay.”

It was what her deaf parents had gained through personal experience throughout their lives. Using those words that held her parents’ lives as a springboard, Lee-Kil Bo-ra enrolls at the Netherlands Film Academy, and the young artists and the culture of Amsterdam that she encounters present her with a whole new adventure and ways of seeing. Just like her parents, whose deafness made them confront and sense the world directly, Lee-Kil Bo-ra negotiates an unfamiliar world through her senses. Even in this place, distinctions are made and discrimination exists — but what differs is the amount of effort to understand and accept each other. After all, what matters is trying to embrace difference, and respecting those trying. It is a life experience that’s worth a shot.

 

“Reading Lee-Kil Bo-ra’s text, it strikes me anew how adulterated the word “youth” had become. An attitude that lucidly recognizes where one comes from, a healthy mind that wants to share what it has learnt and realized — sometimes while gazing around, at other times while tackling things head on. She makes me redefine youth … Though we might slip and fall on the perilous rainy road, Lee-Kil Bo-ra makes us believe, against all odds, that we will get up, holding each other’s hands, wavering, but once again walking down the road.”

By Jang Ryu-jin
fiction writer



Translated by