Aussie Chuk-gu Dream review at Parramatta Riverside Theatre

Generational: (l-r) Danny Choi and his father Youn Suk Choi, with Sunny Chang and Seok Jae Chang.
Generational: (l-r) Danny Choi and his father Youn Suk Choi, with Sunny Chang and Seok Jae Chang.

Aussie Chuk-gu Dream is more than just a football film, despite what the title may suggest.

The documentary features two young Australian-Korean football players: Blacktown City FC’s Danny Choi, 21, and Sydney United 58 FC's Sunny Chang, 16.

Both Choi and Chang show promising futures and dream of pursing professional football - or 'chuk-gu' as Koreans fondly call the sport.

But their story highlights how their passion for the world game is bridging the cultural differences between Australians and Koreans today.

As Dr Yung Jai You, of the Korean Football Association in Australia, aptly says in the film: "Immigrants and Korean football. These two things are inseparable".

The documentary, which premiered at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres on October 11 as part of the inaugural Football Film Festival, further delves into the sacrifices of first generation Australian-Korean immigrants and the current struggles faced by the second generation.

From overcoming language barriers to resettlement in a foreign country, the film gives a raw account on some of the pain which Choi and Chang's parents endured when they first came to Australia.

"Whenever I play games against other teams, I can feel them looking down on me because I am of an Asian background,"

Danny Choi

Fathers Youn Suk Choi and Seok Jae Chang both agree that they certainly felt a strong sense of discrimination in the Australian community.

This was similarly felt by young Choi and Chang on the field.

"Whenever I play games against other teams, I can feel them looking down on me because I am of an Asian background," Choi said in the film.

"They didn't give me the ball often and I felt it was because I was Asian."

Yet the players acknowledge that this has changed overtime, portraying how far Australia has come in accepting diversity.

It is evident throughout the documentary that for the families of Choi and Chang, football is symbolic of their heritage and the pride that comes along with it.

However for second-generation Australian-Korean immigrants in particular, they are faced with an identity crisis.

The film illustrates how this was apparent during the 2015 Australia vs South Korea Asian Cup final in Sydney.

Choi and Chang were faced with the ultimate question of whether they will be cheering for Australia or Korea.

Director Jae Yong Ahn, of Mickle Productions, believes the stories behind the young football players resonates with most Australian-Koreans today.

"I think we’re going through a transitional phase of the old and the new generation and that’s what I wanted to portray through these soccer players," he said during a forum following the premiere of the film.

"But I feel as though I didn’t quite capture the full story which is why there are two parts to this film. What we’ve just shown is only one part and we’re currently in the process of finalising the other."

Aussie Chuk-gu Dream, funded by the Australian Korean Foundation, was a collaboration between Mickle Production, Korean Soccer Association Australia and Red Elephant Projects.

This story Aussie Chuk-Gu Dream: A Story of Struggle first appeared on Parramatta Sun.

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