Gina Kim

Gina Kim’s powerful work has added a new dimension to visual activism in the global context of anticolonial and feminist movements. Her recent virtual reality work, Tearless (2021), is a significant contribution to memory activism and foregrounds issues of ethical representation in the age of immersive media.

Tearless is the second of Kim’s trilogy on the ‘US comfort women’ who were mobilized for sexual servitude in South Korea’s camp towns that surround US military bases. A 360-degree three-dimensional display is used to invite the viewer to a virtual space that re-enacts ‘Monkey House’ – a medical prison for those women who were suspected to have STDs. The South Korean government regularly tested camp town women for STDs and detained those who were suspected to have been infected in this isolated building. The name “Monkey House” was given to the detention centre by US soldiers ridiculing detained women. It was operational from the 1960s through the 1990s and is now derelict. Gina carefully documented the look of this abandoned building with a 360-degree camera and established a virtual spatial archive of postcolonial South Korea’s neglected remains.

This virtual reality project, along with Gina’s previous work Bloodless (2017), imposes a challenging self-reflexive task on memory activism in the postcolonial world. While the neo-imperialist nature of US military presence in Asia has been criticized with evidence of sexual trafficking in camp towns and unequal treaties to deal with the crimes committed by US soldiers, both the role of the postcolonial state in such an unholy alliance with the US for military prostitution and the statuses of those mobilized women in their own society, not only in the general public’s mindset but also in the anti-imperialist narratives of memory activism, have not been sufficiently questioned or examined. Both Bloodless and Tearless invite the viewer to the virtual spaces of past atrocities in an endeavour NOT to visualize and consume the victim’s body in a dramatized and gendered narrative of victimization. The immersive media technology here provides room for an alternative and reflective experience of becoming victims, challenging the male gaze prevalent in mainstream media and public memory.

Gina Kim’s work has broadened film media’s horizons of social critique and gives us powerful insights towards new and reflexive methods in visual activism.


Still From Tearless
Gina Kim Still From Film
Gina KIm Still From Film
Still From Film
Gina Kim Still From Film
Bloodless Poster
The Film Set Of Gina Kim’s VR Documentary Film “Bloodless”
Gina Kim Is Photographed On A Film Set


  • Give us adequate images. We lack adequate images. Our civilization does not have adequate images. And I think a civilization is doomed or is going to die out like dinosaurs if it doesn’t develop an adequate language for adequate images.

    Werner Herzog


    Reality changes; in order to represent it, modes of representation must change.

    Bertolt Brecht


    One advantage of photography is that it’s visual and can transcend language.

    Lisa Kristine

  • Watching a documentary with people hacking their way through some polar wasteland is merely a visual. Actually trying to deal with cold that can literally kill you is quite a different thing.

    Henry Rollins

  • We never really know what’s around the corner when we’re filming – what turn a story will take, what a character will do or say to surprise us, how the events in the world will impact our story.

    Barbara Kopple


    The task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of.

    Zygmunt Bauman

  • Before I became a film major, I was very heavily into social science, I had done a lot of sociology, anthropology, and I was playing in what I call social psychology, which is sort of an offshoot of anthropology/sociology – looking at a culture as a living organism, why it does what it does.

    George Lucas

  • Photographers learn to interpret photographs in that technical way because they want to understand and use that ‘language’ themselves (just as musicians learn a more technical musical language than the layman needs). Social scientists who want to work with visual materials will have to learn to approach them in this more studious and time-consuming way

    Howard Becker


    If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

    James Reston


    The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.

    Pierre Bourdieu

  • I believe that we face incredible obstacles in our attempts to see the world. Everything in our nature tries to deny the world around us; to refabricate it in our own image; to reinvent it for our own benefit. And so, it becomes something of a challenge, a task, to recover (or at least attempt to recover) the real world despite all the impediments to that end.

    Errol Morris


    Visual culture is now the study of how to understand change in a world too enormous to see but vital to imagine.

    Nicholas Mirzoeff


    Every photograph promises more than it delivers and delivers more than it intended.

    Steve Harp


    There are dignified stupidities, and there are heroic stupidities, and there is such a thing as stupid stupidities, and that would be a stupid stupidity not to have a camera on board.

    Werner Herzog

  • So it is my firm belief, that if you want nowadays, to have a clear and distinct communication of your concepts, you have to use synthetic images, no longer words.

    Vilém Flusser


    Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating.

    William S. Burroughs

  • You try your hardest to give people their space, but at moments you know you’re capturing their image in ways they may or may not be okay with. It’s that rocking back and forth between respect and betrayal that I feel like is at the heart of the film.

    Kirsten Johnson


    For any picture, ask yourself what question or questions it might be answering. Since the picture could answer many, questions, we can decide what question we are interested in.

    Howard Becker

  • If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you’ve got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you’re dumb and blind.

    Salman Rushdie


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