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“We are different, but we should co-exist or live together as humans”

By Yu Cheol & Cha Shin-hae | 기사입력 2021/06/15 [14:52]

“We are different, but we should co-exist or live together as humans”

By Yu Cheol & Cha Shin-hae | 입력 : 2021/06/15 [14:52]

 


Lee Mahbub was born in Bangladesh and naturalized as a Korean citizen in 2011. He is popularly known to his Korean fans in the South Korean film industry. He played lead roles in “Bandhobi,” “City of Crane,” and “Love in Korea,” etc. He also wrote the autobiography, “I Am an Earthling.” He is currently CEO of M&M International, a film production and distribution company. He is also the director of the Bangladesh cultural association in Korea. – Ed  

 

Q: Could you tell us about yourself and what made you work in the movie industry in Korea?

 

A: Well, I’m CEO of M&M International. Before coming into this field, I was engaged in social work for migrant workers, but I realized that the media outlets neither understood the migrant workers’ condition nor fully cover their lives. So, I decided to find ways to speak out as their voices, with documentaries and short movies. 

 

Q: We heard you hadn’t had any formal training in film making at first and started it from scratch.  

 

A: Well, yes, I had neither studied film nor had close experience in the movie industry. I did not have any equipment or funds to film movies. I had to take classes on film making by myself. I cannot deny that my life was very busy and I was not in the best physical health. However, I had no choice but to keep learning since there were simply too many things to learn.

 

Q: What difficulties have you faced producing the films on migrant workers?

 

A: At first, lots of Korean media posted articles about what we were doing. It was something unusual that migrant workers filmed their life as migrant workers. However, most media outlets were so quick to lose their interest in what we were doing.

     Actually, we needed everyone’s sustainable interest and attention. We needed things to make people keep their interest on what we were doing. We made the films first in Korean, but later in multi-languages as many as ten languages. The process was not easy. However, we eventually succeeded in doing it. 

 

 



Q: What do you think of the word “multi-culture” and multi-cultural events like the Diaspora Film Festival?

A: Personally, I think the word “multi-culture” does not make sense. Of course, culture is essentially of diversity, I’m sure. However, it is not about the division of nationality. We can put culture to countless subjects, for example, student culture or unique culture of some provinces, but adding words in this way can sometimes cause us to draw thick lines and make people differentiate others from themselves.

   Of course, we are different, but again we are the same humans. We should co-exist or live together as humans. “Drawing lines about humans” is the start of discrimination. My point is, for example, even the Diaspora Film Festival and other cultural events should not be defined or viewed as “their” culture. Then, they are inevitably reduced to nothing but some things enjoyed by a certain number of people from some limited places. There should be festivals and events for all of us.

 

Q: What do you think the biggest problem in implementing policies for migrants or foreigners inside Korea?

 

A: The biggest problem is bureaucracy, I’m afraid. There are quite a few cases I couldn’t find any experts in a given field. In many cases, public workers are assigned randomly, and naturally but unfortunately, they do not have deep insight in their work. Also, the precious budget is sometimes spent just on building facilities without providing adequate programs.

 

Q: Lastly, do you have any words for our young readers?

A: People sometimes unconsciously have different views on expats, based on their color and race. Seeing a Caucasian male, many people would be quick to assume he has a professional high-paid job. Seeing a South-East Asian male, they would quickly decide he is a construction worker. Such an assumption is just irrational and does not make any sense. I was from Bangladesh, but now I am a Korean citizen. However, a lot of people still draw lines based on different standards, leaving me to belong nowhere. This is not just my personal story, but what every expat goes through. After many years of thinking where I belonged, I finally have found what I am. I am an Earthling as I put in my book with the same title. In fact, we all are Earthlings. There is no point in drawing lines saying we are different from them. 

 

[61st edition of Weeklymonday / June 14, 2021]

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