My Missing Aunt
I happened to learn about my aunt who killed herself 40 years ago. Through a journey of understanding her choice, she questions the role of women in Korean society and family.
I was afraid of becoming like my aunt. Born to the Yang family as the eldest daughter, I was called ‘older sister’ more than by my own name in my childhood. As natural as my younger brother being in the center of the family, I kept thinking there was no place for me in my family. The night before my college graduation day, my dad was drunk and told me that he once had a sister and I learned about her who disappeared 40 years ago. Why did my aunt take her own life a day before her college graduation? the story of his sister who took her own life. After I discovered photos of her that my grandmother left, I decided to make a film about her to fight off the fear. My journey to find my aunt is portrayed through live-action and animation. I create her lost time in the animation, and I come face to face with her. And through my father's trauma, I realize how ‘women committing suicide’ are stigmatized in Korean society until now. Would I be able to cut this wrongful brand that lingers through generations and create a new time for my family? This is not just to find her place in the past, but also to find my own, which has been put aside in this family.
When I say that I have an aunt that I don’t even know her face or name, they often tell me that they too have similar stories of their aunts. Although the fact that my aunt was not the only one whose existence has never had a chance to be talked about in this world gave me a small comfort. But at the same time, I always wondered why those tragic protagonists of family secrets had to be women in many cases. I wanted to tell them that the causes of the tragedies were never their fault. Since her death, even after 40 years, discrimination against someone born as a woman still exists in the patriarchy. It just became harder to explain. The discrimination has become something ‘private’ that is trivial and to be unrevealed, something petty and shameful to talk about. My Missing Aunt is a project to reveal a story that has never been revealed. Telling the forgotten life and death of my aunt is my attempt to break the cycle of tragedy.
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