Free Chol Soo Lee: The Effort to Right a Legal Wrong
In the early 1970s, a 20-year-old Korean immigrant named Chol Soo Lee was convicted of a Chinatown gang murder. Sentenced to life, he spent years fighting to survive, until investigative journalist K.W. Lee took a special interest in his case, igniting an unprecedented social justice movement that would unite Asian Americans and inspire a new generation of activists.
Nearly five decades later, the new documentary Free Chol Soo Lee examines this largely unknown yet important history, presenting an intimate portrait of the complex man at its center and serving as an urgent reminder of his legacy.
Join us for a free online conversation with Julie Ha and Eugene Yi, the co-directors of Free Chol Soo Lee.
Note: This is a discussion with the filmmakers; it is not a screening of the film.
About the Speakers
Julie Ha’s storytelling career spans more than two decades, in both ethnic and mainstream media, with a specialized focus on Asian American stories. She worked as an editor for 10 years at KoreAm Journal, a national Korean American magazine, and served as its editor-in-chief from 2011 to 2014, during which time she led award-winning coverage of the 20-year anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. She has written for the Hartford Courant in Connecticut, the Rafu Shimpo, a Los Angeles-based Japanese American newspaper, and the Los Angeles Times. Her feature stories have earned her awards from New American Media and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2018 the Korea Economic Institute of America honored her for her contributions to journalism. A graduate of UCLA, where she studied English-American Studies and worked as a student editor, she is a past board secretary of the Asian American Journalists Association, Los Angeles Chapter, and a founding board member of the late ’90s reboot of Gidra, a progressive Asian American magazine that originated in 1969. Free Chol Soo Lee marks her first documentary film project.
Eugene Yi is a filmmaker, editor, and journalist. His film editing work has premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the TriBeCa Film Festival, and others. Selected titles include the News and Documentary Emmy-nominated Farewell Ferris Wheel, a documentary about guest workers in the carnival industry, and Out of My Hand, a fiction-documentary hybrid that was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival. His web video work has been in The New York Times, CNN, "Frontline," The Washington Post, Buzzfeed News, Al Jazeera, and Deadspin. He served as assistant editor on Inside Job (2010), which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. He was named one of the 2017 National MediaMaker Fellows with the Bay Area Video Coalition, for Free Chol Soo Lee. He taught at the Edit Center, a school for film editing formerly based in Brooklyn. Yi’s print journalism has been honored with numerous awards, including the LA Press Club Award for his oral history of the 1992 Los Angeles unrest from the Korean American perspective for KoreAm Journal. He is a native of Los Angeles and a graduate of Brown University, where he studied neuroscience.
The Commonwealth Club of California
Co-director, Free Chol Soo Lee
Co-director, Free Chol Soo Lee
Producer and Host, "The Michelle Meow Show," KBCW TV and Podcast; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors—Co-host
Producer and Host, Week to Week Political Roundtable; Vice President of Media & Editorial, The Commonwealth Club of California—Co-host