The Untold Tale of Koreans in Cuba

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About the documentary

Born in 1926 to Korean indentured servant parents in Cuba, Jeronimo joins the Cuban revolution and crosses paths with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, before turning to his Korean roots and identity.

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"The story of a remarkable life and an oral history of the Korean diaspora in Cuba"

- POV Magazine
"Finding universal truths in a very specific story."

- Cinevision
"Jeronimo is an exemplary film that defies borders and brings new meaning to identity and self-discovery."

- Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival


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Immigration to Mexico

1033 Koreans board a cargo ship to Mexico after being told it flows with milk and honey, and that 4 years of labor would guarantee enough funds to return to Korea and live comfortably. *A 2 year old Cheontaek Lim boards the ship with his single mother.

1905 - 1909

Henequen Farms

Koreans arrive in Mexico who are sold to 22 landlords who place them in their Henequen farms. Then begins 4 years of enslavement with little or no basic rights.


Japanese Colonization

Korea is officially annexed by Japan and disappears off the map. Koreans living in Mexico lose their nationality and refuse to be registered as Japanese nationals as demanded by the Japanese embassy.


Cuban Immigration

A group of 300 or so Koreans immigrate to Cuba to seek better life, only to find the conditions just as lamentable. Most find their home at henequen farms in Cuba. *Cheontaek Lim is included in this group.


Jeronimo Lim's Birth

Jeronimo Lim is born as the first son of Cheontaek Lim.

1935 - 42

Independence Movement

Cheontaek Lim raises funds among Koreans in Cuba to support Kim Goo at the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai and Korea's independence movement against Japanese occupation.


Jeronimo's Education

Jeronimo attends Havana University - the first Korean to be admitted into college. He studies law and one of his classmates was Fidel Castro.

1949 - 59

Jeronimo and Politics

Jeronimo joins and actively leads the Orthodox party that later became part of the Guerrilla movement that toppled the Batista's corrupted government.


Jeronimo's Career

Jeronimo serves the new Cuban government for nearly 3 decades, and at one point, serves as Director of the Department of the Food Industry while Che is the Minister.

2001 - 2005

Korean Commemoration

Jeronimo leads an effort to erect the Korean Monuments in Manati and Matanzas to commemorate the 80th year of Korean immigration to Cuba.


Jeronimo's Death

Jeronimo suddenly passes away during what was to be a minor surgery.


Joseph's Cuba Trip

Joseph travels to Cuba, and coincidentally meets Patricia Lim, Jeronimo's daughter, and is fascinated by the story of Jeronimo.


Documentary Production

Joseph returns to Cuba with crew members Jennifer, Grace, Kihoon, Jaesun, and William, meeting 100 Koreans and interviewing 35 people in search of Jeronimo's legacy and the history of Koreans in Cuba.


Documentary Launch

The feature-length documentary, Jeronimo, is expected to be released.

Documentary Origin

I arrived in Havana in December 2015 for a week-long backpacking trip. To my great surprise, I was picked up by a taxi driver who happened to be a fourth generation Korean Cuban, an encounter that changed not only the nature of that trip, but the course of my life. As a second generation Korean American, I realized over the years that awareness and appreciation of one's roots in the larger narrative of global migration and citizenry are crucial for having a solid foundation of oneself – something that is at the heart of the story of Jeronimo.

Dealing with complex sometimes controversial notions of identity, homeland, division in Korea, Cuban revolution political ideological clashes, and reunification, Jeronimo is an attempt to unveil a forgotten chapter in the history of Korean diaspora and a reminder that a search of one’s identity is a common journey for all humanity.

- Director Joseph Juhn

Film Credits

  • Production Company: Diaspora Film Production
  • Director/Producer: Joseph Juhn
  • Producer: Roy Choi
  • Executive Producer: Blaine Vess, Gie Kim, Richard Chang, Wonju Lee, Ted Kang, Danny Woo, Chang Rok Woo
  • Co-Producer: Marlies Gabriele Prinzl, William Juhn
  • Editor: Yan Vega, Joseph Juhn
  • Original Scores: Matthew Wang
  • Theme Song: Soeun Lee
  • Cinematographer: Brais Revalderia, Jaesun Song


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