Title: 대한미국인 American Korean

2017년 1월 21일, 언제부터인가 박근혜 대통령 탄핵 촛불의 맞불집회로 서울 종로구 덕수궁 대한문 앞에선 ‘대통령 탄핵기각을 위한 국민총궐기운동본부(탄기국)’ 회원들이 태극기 집회라는 명목으로 맞불집회를 열었다.

말로는 애국보수, 보수집단, 국가를 살리러 나왔다는 명목하에 노인들을 위주로 구성된 박사모 등 으로 구성되어있다고 한다. 언론의 증언에 의하면 태극기 집회에 참가하면, 목욕을 하고 깔끔한 모습으로 나오면 5만 원, 유모차를 끌고 나오면 15만 원을 받는다고 보도되어왔다.

명칭은 ‘애국 태극기 집회’라고 하였다. 그들의 외침에는 우리 각하가 살아야한다, 빨갱이들은 물러가라, 너 어디 기자야 라는 말이 유행어처럼 번졌다. 그곳은 더이상 정상적인 사고가 돌아가는 곳이라고 생각되지 않았다. 대통령이 신격화된 공간, 그곳이 태극기 집회였다.

그런데 여기서 의문이 있다. 그러나 그들의 손에는 태극기와 성조기 2개의 국가의 깃발이 들려있다. 왜일까. 일장기도 아닌, 인민기, 오성홍기도 아닌 왜 성조기였을까. 의문이 생겼다. 성조기 뿐만 아니라 미국 45대 대선 당선자인 도날드 트럼프 사진도 집회 참가자들 손에 들려져 있다. 그들은 대한민국이 미국의 속국이라고 생각하는 것일까, 미국의 또 다른 주(states)라고 생각하는 것일까. 이 나라는 더 이상 글러 먹었으니 미국 국민이 되고 싶은 생각이었을까? 자신들이 신격화한 대통령을 살려달라고 미국이라는 강국에 애원을 하는 것 처럼 보였다. 그것은 마치 어린 아이가 부모에게 내 상황이 이러하니 도와주라고 떼를 쓰는 것과 흡사했다.

작업은 태극기와 성조기가 어떤 상관관계가 있는지 질문을 던진다. 새로운 것이나 변화를 적극적으로 받아들이기보다는 전통적인 것을 옹호하며 유지하려 한다는 뜻의 보수라는 이름을 걸고 박근혜 대통령을 구하려고 모인 집단의 손에 들려 있던 성조기는 더이상 대한민국 국민을 포기한, 그렇다고 미국 국민도 아닌 애매모호한게 낀 “대한미국인”이라고 생각했다.

참가자들은 언론과의 인터뷰에서 성조기를 든 목적은 우방국가라서 들었다고 말했다.

On January 21, 2017, members of the National People’s Solidarity Movement for Rejecting the President’s Impeachment in front of the Deokguk Palace in Jongno-gu, Seoul, opened a rally in the name of Taegeukgi.

In word they consisted of patriots, conservative groups, and the elderly who came out in order to save the nation. But, according to the media, those participating in the Taegeukgi rallies were reported to have received 50,000 won for showing up in a clean state, and 150,000 won if they pulled a stroller.

Their title was the ‘Patriotic Taegeukgi Rally’. They cried out chants such as, “We must save our leader” and “Communists go away.” “Who are you reporting for?” became a popular accusation against journalists. I did not think that there was a normal incident anywhere.

But here is the question. Why are there flags of two countries in their hands. Why? That is the question I have. It’s not only flags, but pictures of Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, which were held in the hands of participants. Do they think Korea is a tributary state, or another state of the United States? Did they want this country to become part of America? It seemed as if they were begging the United States of America to save their president whom they worshiped.The situation was akin to a child complaining about their situation and asking their parents for help.

Their work questions the correlation between the national flag and the American flag. In the hands of the group gathered to save Park Geun-hye, under the name of the conservatives, which means to defend and preserve the traditional, rather than actively accepting new things or changes, their flags don’t represent Koreans or Americans, but in my mind “American Korean.”

In interviews with the press, participants said that the purpose of the flags were to be a friendly country.

Bio: 정병혁, 정희망이라고도 부릅니다. 대한민국 경기도 부천에 살고있고, 중부대학교 사진영상학과 4학년에 재학중이고, 사진기자를 목표로 공부하고 있습니다.

고등학생 때 따로 사진을 배우지 않았고. 그냥 어려서부터 부모님과 함께, 또 의도치 않게 주변에서 집회, 시위, 정당활동, 사회가 돌아가는 현상들을 많이 보고 경험해볼 수 있었습니다. 2008년 광우병 집회가 일어나면서 참가자로 있을 때, 단상에 모여있는 사진기자들이 뭔가 멋있어 보였습니다.. 그게 사진을 시작하게 된 계기였다. “나 역시 저 위치에 서서 이런 현상을 기록하겠다”라고 생각했고, 저 사람들은 뭘 기록하고 뭘 보고 있을까라는 것이 가장 궁금한 이유였습니다.

I am known as Jung Byung Hyuk as well as Jung Hee Mang. I live in Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, and I am in my fourth year studying photography at Joongbu University and aiming to become a photographer.

I did not study photography separately when I was in high school. I was able to experience a lot of events such as rallies, protests, and other political activities while around my parents during my youth. When I was a participant in the 2008 mad cow rally, I saw the photographers gathered on the podium and thought they looked cool. That was when I began an interest in photography. I thought “I would also like to stand in that position and record this phenomenon,” and I was curious to know what they were recording and what they were looking at.

You can follow more of Jung Byung Hyuk’s work here.

Title: 연인들 (The Lovers)

한국 사회에서, 젊은 연인들이 공공장소에서 거리낌 없이 애정표현을 할 수 있게 된 것은 그리 얼마 되지 않았다. 사실 아직까지도, 대낮에 사람들이 많은 곳이나 어르신들 앞에서의 애정표현은 ‘예의 없는 짓’으로 여겨지곤 한다.

그러나 해가 진 거리를 젊은이들이 메우기 시작하면, 연인들의 애정표현은 거침없어진다. 예전 세대와는 다르게 자신의 감정에 솔직할 줄 알며 직설적으로 표현할 줄 아는 젊은 세대의 존재감을 온몸으로 표현하는 듯하다.

때문에 주로 막차시간이 가까운 늦은 시간, 서울과 수원의 거리에서 촬영한 젊은 연인들의 이미지를 통해 사랑을 둘러싼 여러 가지 감정들, 그리고 나아가 우리 세대의 단면을 표현하고자 하였다.

In Korean society, young lovers have not been able to express their affection in public places. In fact, the expression of affection in places where there are many people in the daytime and in front of elderly people is still regarded as “disgraceful.”

However, when young people start to fill the sunny streets, lovers’ expressions of affection appear. Unlike the previous generation, it seems it’s the young generation who knows how to be honest with their feelings and expresses them directly.

Therefore, I wanted to express various emotions surrounding love through the images of young lovers photographed in the streets of Seoul and Suwon.

Bio: 박인화는 1990년 수원에서 태어났다. 단국대학교 공연영화학부(Dept of Theater & Film)에서 영화 연출을 전공했으나 졸업 후 2년 동안 백수로 지내면서, ‘남들은 도대체 어떻게 사는지’ 관찰하기 위해 거리 사진을 찍기 시작했다. 3편의 단편영화를 연출했으며, 단편영화 <기생(Parasite)>은 제9회 서울세계단편영화제(Seoul World Short Film & Video Festival) 에서 입선했다. 현재에는 <연인들> 연작을 비롯한 거리 사진과 영화 작업을 이어가고 있다.

Park Inhwa was born in Suwon in 1990. He majored in film directing at Dankook University’s Department of Theater & Film, but spent two years as a jobless man after graduating, and began taking street pictures to observe how ‘others live’. He directed three short films. The short film, Parasite, was selected at the 9th Seoul World Short Film & Video Festival. Currently, he continues to work on street photography and film, including the series “Lovers.”

To see more of Inhwa Park’s works, you can follow him on Instagram.

Title: Grown in Korea

“The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” is an idiom that so aptly encapsulates Korea’s mentality of conformity in which people are expected to be unique enough so as to garner praise but not so much as to be overly exceptional. Cooperating in this group-think is not a suggestion but a requirement for participating in society. Those who refuse are cast aside as outsiders. Although most still fear being ostracised or the instability that comes with an uncharted path, each year, tens of thousands of South Koreans in their 40s to 60s reject these expectations imposed upon them. More often than not, they turn to farming—a profession that evokes shame for many older Koreans but is the hope of younger generations seeking to regain their agency.

With Yeoncheon-proper behind him, Han looks out onto the Imjin River, where he used to play as a child.

The first wave of “return to the land” farmers were born around the 1960s, a tumultuous time in which modernization uprooted Korean society as it had been known. The majority of Koreans up until that point in time were farmers, but with new economic opportunities on the horizon, the parents of that generation pushed their children to focus on education in hopes that they could later find work in an urban area and lives life easier than that of a farmer’s. These children grew up toiling in the fields from before the sun rose until school opened for session. They were expected to climb the social and economic ladder not only for themselves but also for the family’s prestige.

After graduating university, children of that generation moved to urban areas and held stable jobs in large companies. Despite following their parents’ every wish, they were not living the comfortable life that had been promised if they managed to escape the fields. They had economic stability but as they travelled abroad, developed health issues, or had children of their own, they began to question what necessitated a fulfilling life. In their search for answers, they decided to reject the premise that happiness could be measured by the goods they owned or titles they held and sought to live a simple life away from society’s materialism.

From large cities like Seoul or Daejeon, these urbanites “returned” to anywhere they could hold land of their own. They relocated as far north as the Civilian Control Line to as far south as Jeju Island. In the eyes of many parents, the decision to farm was a waste of the family’s efforts. Contrary to the pitiable image of farmers, these farmers spent their 20s to 40s living seemingly-enviable lives in the city. Those peering in judged these “return to the land” farmers as cowards who were shirking away from the difficulties of their lives, but despite its outward simplicity, life in the countryside included its own set of burdens.

Farming is not only physically taxing but also mentally exhausting. For their constant work, farmers are fortunate if they manage to earn 30,000USD in a year—a pittance considering the hours and physical labour involved. Not only are they barely able to scrape by with their earnings, their roles as producers and protectors of Korean culture are ignored as physical labour is seen as the antithesis of progress. “Return to the land” farmers are not only dismissed by urbanites but also discriminated against by local farmers, who view them as selfish and entitled. The prejudice is doubly so for women, who are usually seen as accompaniments to their husbands and therefore rarely equally respected or have their femininity questioned should they choose to farm on their own. Despite the many hardships, most of these pioneering farmers who survived the initial first two to three years have now lived in the countryside for almost two decades.

In the same way that lifelong urbanites possess a glowingly idealized vision of life in the countryside, the parents of these “return to the land” farmers blindingly worshipped all that was modern. Their parents did not see underneath the glamour of the city the long working hours, the high living cost, and the rampant consumer culture that gave life a different set of complications. Having lived in both the city and the countryside, these farmers grasped that every lifestyle has its own hardships. They did not choose to live as a farmer because they believed that their lives would be free of concerns, but because it was only by living off the land that they could have true wealth: a life in which the hardships bring joy rather than the means by which to purchase distractions. Although their bodies become sore from squatting to sow and to weed and their wallets remain relatively empty, they have time and space to enjoy the beauty in their daily lives.

“I dislike the term ‘Hell Joseon’,” Farmer Park Jeong-seon once told me, “[because] there is no Hell unless we make it so.” By freeing themselves of the restraints of an era that did not belong to them, they found a way of life in which they could thrive as themselves. Although each farmer took their own path to return to the land, the lesson they learned has been the same: contentment with oneself cannot be found by following society’s rules or be given by one’s parents but must be cultivated through one’s own sincere actions.

Bio: Yolanta C. Siu is a documentary photographer and visual journalist from the United States who writes primarily about urbanism and food politics. Since 2014, she has been working alongside “return to the land” farmers and recording their life stories and practices.

To see more of Yolanta Siu’s works, you can visit her website.

Title: Spirit Contact – 접신

The photos of the exhibition “spirit contact – 접신“ show Korean shamans of the Hwanghaedo tradition in liminal moments. Liminal moments are periods in which they experience ecstasy and trance because they seek contact with spiritual entities or are incorporated by gods, spirits or ancestors. They are in an intermediate position “betwixt and between” that is very difficult to describe and as a matter of fact is experienced in a manifold of ways.

The power of visualization seems to help where words fail. So my photos show shamans, when they experience intense moments of altered states of consciousness during rituals. My vision is using photography to express something otherwise invisible.

이번 전시회 “접신”의 사진들은 황해도 전통을 이어받은 한국 무당들의 리미널리티적 순간을 보여준다. 리미널리티적 순간이란 무당들이 영적 존재들과 접촉을 꾀하거나 신, 정신 또는 조상들을 자신의 몸으로 받아들임으로써 경험하는 엑스터시와 황홀경의 순간을 말한다. 무당들은 이때 이도저도 아닌 중간적 위치에 놓이게 되는데, 이를 설명하기는 매우 어려우며 실제로 굉장히 다양한 방식으로 나타난다. 언어로 설명이 불가능할 때 시각화가 힘을 발휘한다. 나의 사진들은 무당들이 제의를 치르는 중에 의식의 변용 상태를 경험하는 강렬한 순간들을 담아낸다. 나의 목적은 다른 방식으로는 보이지 않는 것을 사진을 사용하여 표현하는 데에 있다.

Bio: Dr. Dirk Schlottmann is an Ethnologist, Visual Anthropologist and Photographer. After living, working and researching for 10 years in Korea at several universities, he currently lives in Berlin, where he founded the Institute for Korean Shamanism.

Dr. Dirk Schlottmann has conducted fieldwork and research in South Korea, Thailand, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Germany. His interests range from the very specific investigation of spirituality in East Asia and ritual theory, to researching cultural development and change in modernity. The photographic work circles around Asian spirituality, religious culture and altered states of consciousness (trance, ecstasy and spirit possession) and centers essentially on the relation between man and the sacred. “Korean Shamanism” is a long term project since the beginning of the Millennium. The goal of the project is to give an impression of ecstatic rituals, ceremonies with elements of trance and shamanic practices.

His doctoral thesis on Korean shamanism is, in German-speaking countries, regarded as a standard work on modern Korean shamanism.

You can see more of Dr. Dirk Schlottmann’s work at his website Photoanthropos.

On August 6th, 2017, Korea Photo Review was proud to officially launch our first quarterly issue and exhibition celebrating the works of 17 talented photographers. Needless to say, the Korea Photo Review: Exhibition and Launch was a big success! Many people came out to see the works and support the artists. We sold many copies of our magazine, sold about 10 prints by the end of the event (100% of which goes to the artists,) and most important of all, we heard from you – the local community that there is an interest in a publication dedicated to promoting the works of photographers making stories about Korea.

We want to thank the host and staff at G-15 Sonnendeck for opening up their beautiful space to us, everyone who participated in the creation of our magazine and helped us throughout the event, and those who came out to spend their Sunday afternoon with us.

We would also like to thank once again, all the photographers who placed their trust in us to share their important stories: Ed Jones, Dotan Saguy, Joseph Chung, Hon Hoang, Minjin Kang, Mijoo Kim, Yangbantal, Jackson Hung, Ken Shin, Wynsum Foreman, Ali Safavi, Michael Kennedy, AC Parsons, Edward Rivera, 황준희, Eugene Lee, and Lidija Baard.

We still have a few copies of our August issue available for purchase for 12,000 won + 2,000 won shipping in Korea. You can send us a message on facebook to purchase your copy!

 

 

Our first issue of Korea Photo Review also features contributions from nine photographers in our “Reader’s Gallery.” They are: Ken Shin, Wynsum Foreman, Ali Safavi, Michael Kennedy, AC Parsons, Edward Rivera, 황준희, Eugene Lee, and Lidija Baard.

  • Lidija Baard

  • Lidija Baard

  • Lidija Baard

  • Lidija Baard

  • Eugene Lee

  • 황준희

  • Michael Kennedy

  • Michael Kennedy

  • Michael Kennedy

  • Ken Shin

  • Ken Shin

  • Edward Rivera

  • Edward Rivera

  • Ali Safavi

  • Ali Safavi

  • Ali Safavi

  • AC Parsons

  • Wynsum Foreman

  • Wynsum Foreman

Title: Hidden Landscape

한국은 아시아에서는 4번째, 세계적으로 11번째로 큰 경제 규모를 가지고 있는 국가다. 빠른 속도로 근대화를 이룩하고 경제적 기반을 잡은 반면 그에 따른 양극화 현상도 큰 나라가 바로 한국이다.나 역시도 한국, 그리고 ‘서울’의 변화가 놀랍다. 일 년에 한 번 귀국할 때마다 낡은 건물이 고층 빌딩으로 바뀌 어져 있고 사람들의 옷차림 등을 통해 유행이 빠르게 변화하고 있다는 것을 발견하는데, 그 이면에 숨겨진 외로 움과 고독한 풍경도 마주하게 된다.“Hidden Landscape” 프로젝트는 우리가 일상에서 놓치고 있는 부분에 대한 물음에서 시작됐다. 어쩌면 익 숙해셔버려 자각하지 못하는 우리의 감정- 슬픔, 우울함 을 깨닫게 하는 것이 작업의 출발선이었다. 오랜 시간 서울에 살았고, ‘제 3자’가 된 나의 시선으로 서울의 ‘삶’과 ‘시간’, 그리고 단상을 사진으로 담았다.

As a photographer, I trace absence in all its manifestations to capture the various aspects of isolation and loneliness in human life. I’m keenly interested in human beings, their environment, and the tension that exists between the presence and absence of human’s life.

The economy of South Korea is the 4th largest economy in Asia and the 11th largest in the world and famous for its spectacular growth from one of the poorest countries to an advanced, high-income nation in just a single generation. It remains today one of the fastest growing developed countries in the world. I’ve learned that in fast growing developed countries, there is always a serious gap between the rich and the poor. I live in New York, but I visit S. Korea once each year. Every time I return, I am surprised by the sudden changes I see. Seoul surprises me with its changed trends and the destruction of historical buildings to create new trendy buildings. The gap between rich and poor is growing ever worse.

Here, I try to capture the details of that hierarchy the feelings of loneliness and isolation in Seoul. I explore the material choices we make in our lives and how those choices determine who we are. I always been interested in the environment we live in and how we create it and how our environment shows the world our true face. This project thus asks whether you know where you live and how it looks. Because I visit my hometown only once in a while, I notice these changes quickly. However, I don’t believe the people who live there see them the same way. I believe that photography has its own unique language, and indeed these photographs are an invitation for you to see and consider the unseen in life.

Bio: Minjin Kang is a contemporary photographic artist based in Brooklyn, NY. She moved to the United States in 2008 where she received her BFA at School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2011). In 2014, she acquired her MFA at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work has been exhibited in the U.S nationally and internationally such as Asia contemporary Art Show in Hong Kong, Arpny and bcs gallery in NYC, and Aqua Art Miami in FL.

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‘양반탈’은 정부 프로파간다를 만드는 것에 지칠 대로 지친 익명의 공무원이다. 2010년 어느 날, 그는 양반탈을 쓰고 건설 현장에서 사진을 찍었다. 나중에 사진을 되돌아보며 그는 더 깊은 의미를 발견하게 되었다. 본래 하회마을의 농민들은 풍년을 기원하는 탈놀이를 할 때 양반탈을 써서 지배계급인 양반들을 조롱하였다. 탈춤꾼들은 (턱이 분리된) 이 나무 탈들에 혼령이 깃들어있다고 말한다. ‘양반탈’은 양반탈에 정말로 혼령이 깃들어있는 진 모르겠지만, 어두운 곳에서 양반탈을 쓰고 있으면 혼자라는 생각은 들지 않는다.

Yangbantal is an anonymous photo project, started by a government employee seeking an escape from the doldrums of nationalistic propaganda. One day in 2010, he put on a mask and took selfies in a construction site, which on later examination seemed to present a deeper meaning. The yangban mask used comes from Hahoe Village in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province. Peasants there originally used the mask in ritualistic exorcism dances which lambasted the ruling class that made their lives miserable. Maskdance performers consider the highly expressive masks to possess their own spirits. The wearer of Yangbantal is unsure if this is true, and the spirit of the Yangbantal mask doubts whether its wearer possesses his own soul, but both see eye-to-eye when it comes to consuming actual spirits.

서울역고가 Seoul Station Overpass 201612
동대문디자인플라자 DDP 201011
홍대입구 근처 버려진 주유소 Abandoned Gas Station at Hongik University Station 201312
답십리동 Dapsimni 201011
송탄의 버려진 불교 사원 Abandoned Buddhist Temple Songtan 201203
버려진 대학 도서관 (장소 비공개) – Abandoned University Library (location undisclosed) 20161005
밤골마을 Bamgol Village 201703
인천의 폐부대 – 17 Infantry Division Army Base in Incheon 201307
금호동 Geumho 201110
Ed Jones, AFP
Ed Jones, AFP / Photo by Joseph Chung

In this interview for Korea Photo Review, Hon Hoang interviewed Ed Jones, AFP’s Chief Photographer for North and South Korea. Thank you to Ed Jones for the permission and use of his photographs.

Participants wait to take part in a mass parade marking the end of the 7th Workers Party Congress in Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang on May 10, 2016. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
A woman stands between crates in a warehouse on an ostrich farm on the outskirts of Pyongyang / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
A North Korean tour guide wearing a traditional ‘hanbok’ dress waits for visitors at the ‘Monument to Party Founding’ (not pictured) in Pyongyang on October 11, 2015. North Korea is marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

How did you find yourself with a career in photography and eventually as Chief photographer for AFP in North and South Korea?

A misspent youth, old copies of Nat Geo on the bookshelf at the back of class, and knocking on a lot of doors. I worked my way up through full-time yet relatively short stints at a few small news agencies in the UK, which led to a staff position at one daily newspaper, and then another. By the time I was 25 I had talked my way into a freelance assignment with AFP, which gradually became more regular. I left my newspaper job in Edinburgh in an effort to be more available, and about a year later I moved to Paris to work on AFP’s photo desk. From there I moved to postings in Hong Kong, then Beijing, and now Seoul.

What are your day to day duties as Chief Photographer?

I coordinate with my colleagues from text and video about the day’s events and monitor stories that may develop into something that we need to cover, which includes keeping an eye on local media. There may be text feature stories which we need to illustrate, and similarly if there are photo-driven stories that I think may be of interest to the reporters then I let them know. Occasionally we might receive requests from other offices for coverage of events concerning their respective countries, or contributions to agency-wide photo packages that we need to respond to. I also need to message our regional headquarters in Hong Kong to let them know what we have planned for the day, which ends up as part of a global agenda for our clients.

Korean People’s Army (KPA) soldiers marched during a military parade marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
North Korean soldiers leave their seats following a performance celebrating the 60th anniversary of “victory in the great Fatherland Liberation War” at the Ryugyong Jong Ju Yong Indoor Stadium in Pyongyang, on July 28, 2013. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
Members of the Korean People’s Army at a military parade on April 15 to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

How do you compete to get your stories out before the other news agencies?

The photographers from the other foreign news agencies here often work closely together. They are all very outstanding photographers and operators, and have known each other for many years. The common goal we face in meeting a perpetual deadline means that the competitive element is often aimed at how each of us interprets any given story and whether we can bring new information to it, rather than the mere minutes between the time our photos hit the wire. But away from the camera logistics and diplomacy are important when covering any story, and an ability to be adaptive and sensitive to the surroundings can all add up to getting pictures to out quicker – although accuracy is always more important than speed. As for gear, I usually carry a laptop or iPad for editing and filing outside the office, and if needed I can use a wifi device on the camera to send pictures immediately to an ftp channel that can be accessed by any of our editing desks around the world.

Do you ever have spare time to work on personal projects? If so, what draws you to these projects?

So far I have not felt the need to differentiate between personal projects and my work for AFP, as the subjects that interest me on a personal level are aligned with that. Providing projects are in keeping with the principles of journalism we have a fair amount of creative freedom which allows me to experiment with subject matter and medium. I am predominantly drawn to human interest stories, but also to subjects that will allow me to try certain techniques from slow shutter speeds to softboxes, for example.

A government guide watches as attendees of the 7th Workers Party Congress arrive for a cultural performance in Pyongyang on May 11, 2016. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
A woman carries discarded silk strands at the Kim Jong Suk Silk Mill in Pyongyang. The factory employs 1,600 people—mostly female—and is named for the grandmother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
A North Korean soldier stands in the rain on Kim Il Sung Square following a mass military parade in Pyongyang on October 10, 2015. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Can you please tell me a bit about your street photography in Seoul? What are you trying to capture while in Korea?

I love the idea of showing people who have never been to (North or South) Korea what this place looks like, and I spend a lot of time exploring new locations or revisiting old ones while looking for images that can be used to illustrate various facets of Korean life. Generally I try to trust my intuition as to what might make an interesting image, although this means I often find myself loitering on street corners during sunset. I also try to capture Seoul in a way that does not rely on an approach or aesthetic that is too overbearing, as I feel the pictures belong not entirely to me but rather the people in them and others in years to come, who might need a visual reference of these times.

A fisherman smokes a cigarette as he stands before his lines on a bank of the Han river in Seoul early on January 16, 2017. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
A street worker sprays water on Gwanghwamun square during cleaning, in central Seoul on November 20, 2014. South Korea’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in October but the number of young people out of work eased slightly, government data showed November 12. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
In this photo taken on November 8, 2016, shaman Shin Joong-In (2nd R) prepares to stab a pig as he performs a ritual in which offerings are made to spirits, at a shamanic centre in Yangju, north of Seoul. Practitioners of the centuries-old spiritual tradition are furious that their reputation has been tainted by association with the corruption scandal involving a close friend of the president, Choi Soon-Sil. Shamanism is deeply ingrained in Korean culture, and despite living in one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries, many Koreans still consult shamans — as intercessors with the spirit world — for medical reasons, divination, or personal advice. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

When working on a series or an assignment, do you plan what you want to capture or do you develop the theme as you experience the day to day? 

I think it depends on the assignment or story. I will usually try to plan how to cover something but not how to shoot it. By that I mean trying to make sure that I am in the right place for the right moments, but not to shoot those moments in a way that is too preconceived. However there are plenty of occasions where there might be an obvious need (with a portrait series for example) to ensure an element of continuity that will lend itself to the final edit.

Volunteers take part in a torch-lighting performance at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang on 10 October. North Korea was marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers’ party / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
Performers take part in a torchlight parade on Kim Il-Sung square during festivities marking the end of the 7th Workers Party Congress in Pyongyang on May 10, 2016. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
In a photo taken on July 9, 2016, North Koreans sit on rides at a fairground in Pyongyang. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

How much of the tension and emotions of a situation affect your photography?

There is absolutely a point where these things affect the way I shoot, the question is where that point is. I find it happens less with mass displays of emotion such as political rallies, when I might be too preoccupied with moving around and trying to figure out how things will unfold, and more when photographing individuals or groups facing adversity, for example. In those cases I try to find a balance between a desire to be empathetic and a need to be respectfully assertive so as not to do a disservice to the need to cover the story.

What was the most tense moment you have experienced? What did you do in this situation?

Its difficult to say. I’ve been mugged at knife-point, tried to sleep amid indiscriminate incoming mortar fire, and been forcibly detained. On those occasions I like to think I’ve stayed mostly calm, and tried to hold on to my memory cards. But I have colleagues and friends who face the terrifying prospect of bomb attacks and threats against their families, on a daily basis, simply for being photographers. Next to that I would be embarrassed to say I have ever experienced a tense moment.

In a photo taken on April 13, 2017 Jong Kwang-Hyok (10) poses for a portrait on a football field at a school for orphans on the outskirts of Pyongyang. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
In this photo taken on November 28, 2016, artist Hong Choon poses at the Mansudae Art Studio where he works in Pyongyang. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
Korean People’s Army lieutenant and tour guide Hwang Myong-jin poses for a photo in front of the hut where there negotiations for the Korean War armistice were held in 1953, near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

During moments where time and patience are unavailable, how do you blend in to capture candid moments? 

I don’t necessarily try to blend in, although I absolutely think its important to avoid attention. Most of the time I have a valid reason to be there, so I try to be decisive and observant and usually that’s enough.

The AFP formally opened a bureau in Pyongyang in September 2016, with this access, what are some projects you would like to create? What have you experienced, but have not yet been able to photograph? 

Due to being able to travel regularly between North and South, I am working on a few projects that look at the peninsula as a whole. So much of reporting from either country involves elements of the other, that to me this makes sense. Generally it is possible to photograph the things that I am able to ‘experience’ in North Korea, although perhaps not always as extensively as I would like. During trips outside Pyongyang we often pass towns and villages that I would love to stop and shoot in, but which for obvious reasons is for the most part not possible.

In this photo taken on December 2, 2016, tour guide Baek Hyun-kyung stands in front of the Three Charters of National Reunification Monument where she works on the outskirts of Pyongyang. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
19-year-old volunteer staff member Lee Young-Hwa poses for a photo in a study room at the SciTech science center in Pyongyang. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images
In this photo taken on February 21, 2017, shooting instructor Kim Su-Ryon poses for a portrait at the Meari Shooting Range in Pyongyang. Kim is holding a ‘Paektusan’ target pistol, gifted by late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung. Visitors to the range can pay 10 USD to shoot ten rounds. / ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

How do you usually build rapport with the subjects in your portraits? How did this process change while working on Faces of Pyongyang? 

I show an interest in what they are doing, introduce myself, and take it from there. At the start the concept of stopping people for portraits was relatively new to our colleagues there, who also act as our guides, so it was important to make the actual process quick and as collaborative in order to get them on-board with the idea. Most people are pretty happy to have their portraits taken, and I often visit them on subsequent trips to take them prints. In the beginning I had thought about using a hasselblad, or a softbox, but it would have been too difficult and time consuming to set up on top of carrying two or three DSLRs and multiple lenses. And in any case I didn’t want to augment the feel of the portraits that I think should reflect as much as possible the conditions they are taken in.

Would you have any advice for aspiring photographers? If you had to start all over again, what advice would you give yourself?

I’m absolutely not qualified to give advice to others because times change, photography is subjective, and I will always have lots to learn.

As for advice to my younger self, I might say: photography in journalism is just a medium that is used to tell stories and is often of the same if not of secondary importance to the ability to identify and understand those stories…so go and study something.

 

Title: Youth Blood

Youth Blood is a collection of photographs about an older generation in Korea. It’s an outsider’s perspective of what it is like to be older. What role these people play in society, how they are perceived, their energy, and their ongoing contributions.

Bio:

Hon Hoang is a Vietnamese-American street, portrait, and event photographer currently based in South Korea. He was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, but grew up in Los Angeles, California. He began studying Photography shortly after graduating from UCLA where he studied Psychology. He sees Photography as a medium that answers questions, satisfies curiosity, and showcases the things that are often left unseen.

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