Yo Soy Coreana
A short film produced and directed by AJ Kim in Merida, Mexico in 2017 (in partnership with Yucatan Today).
“Arriving in the Americas, the first port of call for the Korean migrants was Oaxaca on Mexico’s west coast. From there they continued by train to Veracuz, from which they boarded a cargo steam boat to Progreso in the Yucatan peninsula. The shorter train journey from Progreso took them to their final destination, Merida, “there they undertook physical examinations” writes Michael, “and, to their surprise, were divided and sold to the highest bidders among henequen plantations. They were practically sold as slaves”. The disparity between the advertisements that depicted an idyllic life working 9 hours a day in Mexico and the reality was startling. The Koreans worked from dawn to dusk in the excruciatingly hot and humid Yucatan climate, cutting and processing the spiky agave known as henequen, “the promised incentives, such as education for the workers’ children and free medical care were inexistent”. Their meagre salary was in a currency that was only accepted in the hacienda where they worked, thus worthless if they were to escape. ” – Elizabeth Gear, excerpt from The Forgotten History of the Koreans of Mexico and Cuba.