Originally studying communication design at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich, it was during an internship as a production assistant that Dal Park became interested in moving image. Falling for the medium for “all the exciting narrative opportunities it offered,” she relocated to London to study the medium at the Royal College of Art. Her graduation film from the school, West Question East Answer, demonstrates her love of narrative, and sees the animator choosing to tell her own.
A depiction of a “Korean grandmother and her German granddaughter while they try to communicate with each other,” the short is based on experiences between Dal and her own grandmother. The result – which has done several rounds of the festival circuit and been highly accoladed – is a poignant, sensitive interpretation of family dynamics, where stunts in conversation are illustrated delicately.
Dal is a second-generation Korean, born and raised in Germany. As part of Generation Y, the animator, director and illustrator admits she’s not been that politically active in her life, particularly in comparison to her grandmother who was born in North Korea during the Japanese occupation. “She experienced the Korea war, was a refugee in South Korea and later went to Germany to study literature where she experienced the German reunification,” Dal tells us. “Her life has mostly been determined by political events.”
Understandably fascinated by the events of her grandmother’s life, West Question East Answer depicts a character seeking out the tales of her grandmother’s life, wanting to hear her experiences rather than just headlines. “The girl is interested in the personal narratives of the grandmother and is looking for an intimate conversation to relate with her experiences better,” Dal describes. “The grandmother, on the other hand, doesn’t care for personal anecdotes and instead focuses on educating her granddaughter about historical facts that shaped her life.”
This tension between Dal and her grandmother culminates through several conversations, some of which were recorded and create a framework for the animation. In parts, a voice-over giving context to West Question East Answer jumps around recordings of Dal’s grandmother, insisting she read more, raising her voice and frustratingly saying “Just listen to me!”
Honest in its depiction of her own family, Dal’s graduation film displays a director seeking out personal themes and relaying them to a wider audience. In conclusion, Dal describes how the work illustrates the gap “between two generations as they perceive the world from different perspectives due to their generational and cultural backgrounds, and their growing frustration while they try to communicate with each other,” she points out. “It focuses on how the gap is created and why the gap exists. And ultimately, how they manage to decrease the gap.”
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