JERONIMO

By Walter Byongsok Chon, dramaturg, critic, translator, educator, and theatre scholar from South Korea. He is an Assistant Professor of Dramaturgy and Theatre Studies at Ithaca College., March 14, 2022

Embracing Myself Across Theatre, Film, and International Borders

JERONIMO  (2019)

JERONIMO  (2019)

When I first participated in a FLEFF event, I was not yet familiar with FLEFF, and I did not know what I was getting myself into.

In the fall of 2016, I joined Ithaca College as faculty in Theatre Arts, with the charge of building a new dramaturgy program. That October, I was invited to participate in the FLEFF/CFE (Center for Faculty Excellence) Interdisciplinary Forum, “Geographies of Global Citizenship.” 

FLEFF’s theme that year was geographies, and the moderator, professor Debbie Rifkin, initiated the talk with the question, “How does your research fit, stretch, and/or critique the idea of Geographies of Global Citizenship?”

The question resonated not only with my research but also with my practice and identity. 

I am a South Korean citizen. I was born in Germany and spent my childhood there. I spent my youth in Korea, from elementary school through college and the mandatory military service, which I completed as a Naval Intelligence and Interpretation Officer. 

My work as dramaturg, translator, and theatre scholar spreads across the geographies of Korea, Germany, and the English-speaking world, and broadly explores the intersections of borders and intercultural practices. 

As I navigated my way as a new faculty at Ithaca College, my participation in this forum gave me an opportunity to further examine the questions at the intersections of my research, practice, and identity. 

Walter Byongsok Chon

Walter Byongsok Chon, dramaturg, critic, translator, educator, and theatre scholar from South Korea. He is an Assistant Professor of Dramaturgy and Theatre Studies at Ithaca College. 

For the next few years, I served as a film discussion moderator for films including Eric Khoo’s RAMEN SHOP (2018) and Wayne Wang’s COMING HOME AGAIN (2019).

My proudest contribution, I believe, is recommending to FLEFF Joseph Juhn’s documentary JERONIMO  (2019), a story about the Korean diaspora in Cuba. The film focuses on Jeronimo Lim, who fought for the Cuban revolution and crossed significant paths with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. 

The film, which was featured in FLEFF in 2021, not only shed light on a significant history of diaspora through the exploration of Jeronimo’s life but also posed questions about the search for and formation of identity under volatile circumstances. Inviting the director, who is also my cousin, to participate virtually with FLEFF, was also a joy for me, especially during the pandemic. 

Through its inclusive, extensive, and thought-provoking programming, FLEFF has provided me with intellectually stimulating and emotionally rewarding experiences and enriched many aspects of my life, research, and practice. 

I congratulate the festival’s many accomplishments through its longevity and express my gratitude for inviting me in even before I learned where the door was.