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Korea Film Archive unveils 113 videos of modern-day Korea

Jan. 27, 2023 - 13:59 By Kim Hae-yeon
A screencapture of a video shows a student presenting in front of foreign missionaries and school officials at a women's school in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. (Korea Film Archive)

The Korea Film Archive on Thursday released 113 videos documenting Korean society from the early 1900s to 1950s.

The videos show the daily lives of Koreans, as well as the peninsula's natural scenery and urban landscape captured through the eyes of foreigners who filmed the clips while in Korea.

"The archive will be a good reference for researchers in various fields related to the history of Korea, from Christian missionaries and education, to folklore," the Korea Film Archive said through a press release.

Among them, a notable video is the "Archives Korea 1930-1940," a collection of footage shot by James Henry Morris (1871-1942), a Canadian engineer and entrepreneur who helped construct the first tram line in the Joseon era.

Morris, who came to Korea in 1899 working for a US railway company, also helped foreign film distribution and automobile companies set up shop in Korea, and often interacted with foreign diplomats and missionaries for business.

Obtained from the United Church of Canada Archives in 2020, the video is more than five hours long, and contains a number of rare scenes. They include missionary activities in Korea by US and Canadian Presbyterian churches, the celebration of Ewha School's 50th anniversary, and diplomatic activities at the British Embassy located in Jeong-dong, Seoul.

Others in the archive are scenes of Joseon in the early 1900s and Korean royal banquet dances and festive activities.

There are also videos of Koreans maintaining their traditional culture during the Japanese colonial era.

The videos can be viewed at the Korea Film Archive's KMDb collection service website.