The documents have “been in the process of collection for the past 35 years, with materials coming from 30 different countries and 10 languages,” KOFA described.
“Most of the films are from the personal records of foreigners, who held interest in the characteristics, daily lives, culture, landscapes and cities of Joseon.”
Out of the many new additions to KOFA’s collection, the organization highlighted footage by James Henry Morris, titled “Archives Korea 1930-1940.”
With the help of the Canadian United Church Archives in 2020, we were able to recover 5 hours and 14 minutes of rare scenes on 7 reels of 16 mm film. Dubbed a “Treasure Box of Recorded Video,” these scenes include never-seen-before footage.
Morris was a Canadian — and later an American citizen — who traveled to South Korea as an engineer for the Market Street Railway Company. During his time in the country, Morris was responsible for building the first public water system in Seoul. He would also help establish the presence of cars, driveways and power plants.
After working in South Korea for three years, Morris became deeply invested in the country and decided to stay, providing access to foreign diplomats and missionaries. The engineer would continue to aid and benefit from the rapidly modernizing South Korea until his departure in 1939.
The KOFA is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1974 to collect and preserve Korean films.
The organization considers motion picture films as an “indispensable part of our cultural heritage and a unique record of our history and daily lives,” their official website states.
Under the slogan “Don’t throw film away,” the organization encourages groups and individuals to donate their footage if they are incapable of maintaining their records on their own. The new collection is available for viewing at KOFA’s KMDB website.
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