A documentary revealing life-changing acts of humanity and compassion amidst the violence of the Korean War.
2013 marks the Jutlandia’s 60th anniversary. The history of the hospital ship is known, not only to most Danes, but around the world - especially to the American soldiers and the Korean civil population who were wounded and suffered fiercely during the Korean War. Originally a cargo and passenger ship, the East Asian Company-owned Jutlandia was rebuilt from 1951-53 to serve a new purpose as a floating hospital. The ship’s primary mission in Korea was to treat the many wounded soldiers serving the UN-authority. Denmark authorities decided to sail Jutlandia to South Korea partly to perform humane, heroic deeds and partly to support their relationship with their American allies (America and Denmark were allied after WWII, which ended only six years earlier). Moreover, Jutlandia’s mission was to improve Denmark’s position after Denmark’s neutral behaviour during the Second World War.
Jutlandia and the Korean War
The idea behind Jutlandia was primarily that it should be a floating hospital for the FN-forces, but this idea didn’t last long in the harsh reality of the Korean War. The crew of Jutlandia experienced the tough realities of the war, and saw that it was the civilians who suffered most. Death, hunger and misery were a part of the daily life for the South Korean population, and the crew on Jutlandia couldn’t stand this. Everyone knew that the civilians were innocent victims of the war, left with no rights or possibility to get any help. Korea had only one available doctor for every 10,000 inhabitants. Due to this fact, many were dying a slow, painful and unnecessary death often caused by diseases that easily could have been treated.
The crew on Jutlandia was stuck in middle of the violence between North and South Korea, but they had problems aboard the ship as well. They wanted to help everyone they could. However, although ship had a large capacity, the American government mandated that only allied soldiers should receive treatment on board. Due to the capacity of the ship and the extended misery, the crew couldn’t stay passive for long. Despite heavy bureaucratic resistance, Jutlandia was converted to a hospital ship that treated every ill and hurt human being no matter where they were from. This was a drastic and controversial move that caused huge disputes. The crew of Jutlandia fought constantly to remove restrictions on whom they could treat and several conflicts required tear gas and water cannons to bring an end to the discrepancies. One fight aboard Jutlandia, regarding a hurt North Korean man, nearly culminated in disaster. In this case, allowing his death was the only solution to avoiding a meltdown.
Despite the struggle between the fighting parts on Jutlandia, they succeeded in maintaining a common treatment of everyone. The unique sympathy and engagement of the crew changed the perspective of the war for a lot of people. Jutlandia became a symbol of peace, humanity and compassion.
Towards the end of the Jutlandia era, the crew developed a special children’s section that saved the lives of more than a thousand orphans. A number of these children had been left to themselves in the freezing Korean winter and the Korean people soon acknowledged the efforts of Jutlandia. Nowadays many Koreans still remember Jutlandia.
From the crew’s point of view their time aboard Jutlandia is characterized by profound stories of the motivation to save the lives of the soldiers and innocent children who came into the hospital, often with ordinary diseases that had developed to life threading conditions.
The transport of the huge number of patients was difficult, but Jutlandia overcame the challenges and the accumulated effort was an inordinate success. Over 6,000 soldiers were treated, and only 9 of them died on Jutlandia. At the return to Denmark, Jutlandia became a national symbol.
The documentary of Jutlandia is based on different characters that will be our witnesses to the experiences on the ship. It is a story of compassion, duty, honour and humanity in times of war. Through the documentary, students will experience the dramas in the operation-rooms, the life onboard the ship and understand the refugees’ terrible situation. We will identify the ideals behind the self-sacrifice that happened on Jutlandia, and try to document the life the crew experienced on the ship.
The film includes 4 protagonists. The first is the young Kim Ju Whan who was saved by two Danish doctors and a daikon, John Frisk. Kim was at the ship for 5 months and we want to take the old Kim back to Denmark to meet his rescuers. The second and third characters are Svend Jagd and his wife Tove Lodbjerg, who met each other on Jutlandia and found love despite the horror of war. Svend and Tove were married when they got home to Denmark. The fourth character is the American colonel R.E. Sullival who was hurt badly and hospitalized for 3 weeks on Jutlandia.
By interviewing the four characters, we will document what happened with the young people who were onboard and the interviews will show the personal development the crew experienced before the return to Denmark in 1953.
The Korean character documents the influence Jutlandia had on the Korean people’s lives. This aspect of the film shows an experience of the interaction with the Danish culture and how new intercultural friendships were built. The American character describes how terrifying and frightening the war really was. He also gives an insight to how it was to be hurt in the Korean jungle, and how he was saved.
The main purpose is to demonstrate the personal development and self-esteem one can achieve by being a part of a project that requires full engagement, empathy and self-sacrifice. It will show how much can be gained in one’s own life by investing in others.
The documentary will also highlight the political part of the story. It will show how Denmark tried to remedy the neutral position they held in the 2nd world war.
It is important for us that the film is also usable for educational subjects such as history and social sciences. The documentary will be supplemented with a guide that contains relevant texts and assignments that students can work with after watching the film.
Extending the work
Based on the film, we will also produce a teaching website. This site will tell about the international political situation in the period of the WWII. We will apply to use Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s archive or make the site in cooperation with them.
The film production and the supplemental material will be used as a theme to a serial of lessons that will encourage students to develop their critical thinking skills and define their own perspectives.
Everyone who pledges becomes a part of this team and can help get this film out into the world. Please choose a level of donation that works for you and receive some great merch. As a reminder of how Kickstarter works, we have until May 26th to meet our goal of $25,000. If we don’t raise this amount by then, we receive nothing, so please make a donation and share this project with anyone who might be interested.
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