Home Culture Exhibit “A Long Separation” documents the stories of divided North Korean families

Exhibit “A Long Separation” documents the stories of divided North Korean families

Laura Pohl stands in front of her traveling exhibit, "A Long Separation."

TAKOMA PARK, Md.– Laura Elizabeth Pohl’s timely traveling exhibition “A Long Separation” uses photos and audio to recount the stories of North Korean families separated by the Korean War.

Pohl’s exhibition recently stopped at the Takoma Park Community Center on her tour of eight locations along the East Coast.

The stories and photos of ten family members impacted by the separation of North and South Korea are displayed on Pohl’s exhibition truck.

Pohl says her intentions behind the exhibition truck were “to be free” and “very accessible, so… everyone [can] feel comfortable coming to it.”

Beneath the photos of the family members are their stories, translated into both Korean and English. An audio aid was additionally incorporated, allowing people to dial a number and listen to the stories of the divided families, also available in both Korean and English.  

“I wanted to make sure that Korean people who don’t speak English or don’t read English well would feel comfortable coming to the exhibition, knowing that they can still understand everything,” said Pohl. 

Pohl began “A Long Separation” in 2014, after interviewing her great-uncle Yu Il-Sang about his experience as a member of a divided family. Since then, she has conducted interviews with other members of divided families and documented their stories through this exhibit.

With the inter-Korea summit occurring a few days before the first exhibition stop, Pohl said the timeliness of the exhibition was “accidental” and she “couldn’t believe how lucky [she] was for the timing.”

“I think that [the exhibit’s] impact is just for people in the community to remember that despite all of the rhetoric… that these are real people’s lives and very humble people’s real stories,” said Joyce McDonough, a Korean-American resident of Takoma Park and attendee of the exhibition.

Pohl hopes that her traveling exhibition can not only “preserve stories” but also increase awareness of the “issue of divided families” and “the long-term unintended consequences of the Korean War.”




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