Private Project

Songs of Love from Hawaii

"Songs of Love" is a musical documentary that currently delves into the Korean diaspora in Hawaii, weaving three distinct stories, each with its unique storytelling and cultural vibrancy.

1. (00:10) Part 1: "Their Footsteps"
2. (12:31) Part 2: "My Halmeoni's Brass Bowl"
3. (35:27) Part 3: "For Our Cherished Ancestors"

These stories collectively weave a compelling narrative, providing insight into the rich cultural tapestry of the Korean American experience.

Part 1: Their Footsteps
In this 13-minute episode, viewers are transported through the captivating tapestry of Korean immigrant history in Hawaiʻi. Beyond recounting historical milestones, the episode delves deep into the aspirations that drove these pioneers. An array of previously unseen archival images and footage, including direct descendants like former Mayor Harry Kim and Chief Justice Ronald Moon, offer an intimate perspective. The episode resonates with musical performances that echo the emotions of the past, as Ignace Iggy Jang's masterful violin and Christine Suehisa Jang's skillful piano conjure melodies that breathe life into the historic Puuiki Cemetery, Hawaiʻi State Capitol, and Korean naval ship, ROKS Marado.

Part 2: My Halmeoni's Brass Bowl
Spanning 25 minutes, this forthcoming story weaves a poignant tapestry of the life of Lim Ok Soon, a young Korean woman who was orphaned by the Japanese invasion. With little options, she became a picture bride to a Korean immigrant plantation worker in Hawaiʻi. With bravery, she navigates the trials of a foreign land, forging a legacy of love and determination. Accompanied by a poignant musical repertoire including "Thinking of Brother," "Arirang," and "Danny Boy," Grammy Award-winning Korean American violist Richard Yonjae O'Neill infuses Lim's story with deep emotional resonance. Filming in historical landmarks such as Kuliʻouʻou Beach Park, Hoʻmaluhia Botanical Gardens, and Nuʻuanu Memorial Park, the story melds history and music seamlessly.

Part 3: For Our Cherished Ancestors
Concluding the documentary, this 18-minute-long story is a heartfelt musical tribute to the souls who found their rest in Molokaʻi's Kalaupapa.Through hauntingly beautiful renditions of "Aloha Oe" and more, the episode immortalizes their memory. The world renowned violinist of Chee-Yun and Ignace "Iggy" Jang, coupled with Keola Beamer's soulful slack-key guitar and vocals, weaves a powerful elegy against Kalaupapa's backdrop. Amidst the island's remote landscapes, the episode not only showcases resilience in the face of adversity but that home is not a place, it is the people.

    Words of Wisdom from the Rainbow State
    Words of Wisdom from the Rainbow State
  • T. S. Bam
  • Richard Yongjae O'Neill
    Key Cast
  • Chee-Yun
    Key Cast
  • Ignace "Iggy" Jang
    Key Cast
  • Gary Pak
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    하와이 연가
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    53 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 3, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    200,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Korea, Republic of
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Korean
  • Shooting Format:
    4K Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Now Production Film
Director Biography - JINYOUNG LEE WON

An award-winning journalist-turned-filmmaker, Jinyoung Lee earned her degree in Journalism and Multimedia from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea. Since her relocation to Hawaii in 2005, she seamlessly transitioned from journalism to cinema, leveraging her extensive background in Korean media. In 2012, Jinyoung founded Now Production Films with a vision to create impactful films that bridge gaps between cultures and contribute positively to society. Her debut film, The Words of Wisdom from the Rainbow State (2021), received global acclaim and graced prestigious events like the 41st Hawaii International Film Festival. In her latest project, Songs of Love (2023), Jinyoung skillfully merges cultures through music, combining rare historic photographs with enchanting performances by world-renowned musicians. Beyond filmmaking, she passionately contributes to her community orchestra as a dedicated cellist and serves on the board of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. Jinyoung's exceptional talents have been recognized with accolades from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Korea's Digital Contents Competition. She also earned the Best Emerging Filmmaker Award from the Liberty International Movie Festival and the Tagore International Film Festival. Fueled by boundless creativity and a profound love for storytelling, Jinyoung Lee Won continues to captivate global audiences, leaving an indelible mark on the world of cinema.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

My team and I have been very thankful and overwhelmed by the response to our recent documentary series “Words of Wisdom from the Rainbow.” As the 120th anniversary of Korean immigration to Hawaii is approaching, I want to continue exploring this rich history of Koreans in Hawaii with a different perspective- through music. The stories about the Korean immigrant history, their sacrifices and achievements, will be celebrated through pictures and graphics with music by world renowned artists playing within the natural beauty of Hawaii. It is because we believe music can speak louder and communicate deeper often than words, and can reach a wider range of people. We also hope this documentary brings people questions about how we got here, what was done for us to be here, and what we can do to give back to future generations. Our intention with this film is by creating awareness of our heritage, we not only strengthen and celebrate our history and culture, but we foster kinship and can recover and rebuild our communities. We greatly appreciate your interest in our project.