So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of a War chronicles a decades-long project to excavate and repatriate the remains of Korean men who died doing forced labor in Hokkaido during the Asia-Pacific War. During WWII, “more than a million men were taken from Korea to labor at sites across Japanese and the South Pacific Islands; over 200,000 of them were sent to Hokkaido.”(Byung-ho Chung) Many died in harsh conditions in the foreign land. In 2015, 70 years after the war’s end, a group of international volunteers, led by Japanese priest Yoshikiho and Korean scholar Byun-ho Chung, repatriated 115 victim remains to South Korea. The documentary raises important questions about war remembrance, reconciliation, repatriation, and international cooperation. (Produced and Directed by David Plath, 60 minutes, 2016.)
- Roderick Wilson, Assistant Professor, History and East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Rubie Watson, former director of Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University
- Ga Young Chung, PhD Candidate, Global Studies in Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
David Plath, director and producer of the film, will be present for Q&A following the panel discussion.
Prof. David Plath, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has taught at the university for 35 years, published six books and more than 60 articles in anthropology and Japanese studies. Among his many documentary titles are: Preaching From Pictures: A Japanese Mandala (2006), Under Another Sun: Japanese in Singapore (2003), Makiko's New World (1999), Fit Surroundings (1993) , Candles for New Years (1992). In 2000 the Society for East Asian Anthropology established the David Plath Media Award, given biennially for the best new educational media project on Asian societies and cultures. In 2013, Prof. Plath received the Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies award from the Association for Asian Studies for his long engagement and many contributions to teaching about Japan at all levels and through many media.