Category Archives: South Korea

Some places, things, and people of Jeolla province

Last weekend I made my first trip down to the Southwestern corner of the country. What I found really impressed me.  I had been reading a bit on the history of the area famous for its folk music, poets,  and democratic spirit. A province left behind in many regards during Korea’s blitzkrieg development under Park Chung Hee. What I found matched an image, or ambiance I had hoped for. An area still maintaining (to some degree) the traditions of the past. In Jeonju, we hung around old hanok houses and watched pansori performances. Old men lounged on the north bridge listening to cassettes of samul nori music. People tooled around on bicycles and the whole atmosphere felt different than  Seoul. I really enjoyed experiencing tradition beyond Insa-dong, and recommend an exploration of the area. Particularly Jeonju. Anyway, I will spare clumsy verbiage for some images of our few days in the quieter side.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

Jeonju has the largest collection of traditional houses in the country. Some 800 hanok dot this neighborhood, which still maintains a lived in feel despite the encroaching insa-dong like commercialism that seems to be creeping in. We spent a few days wandering around here, sleeping in a traditional hanok house (owned by the grandson of the last Joseon king), and reading on the platform by the north bridge. It might have been the first time I felt genuinely relaxed since being in Korea.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

One of the great things was the amount of old store fronts. Classic places that get eaten up pretty quick in most of Korea.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

As a traditional hub, Jeonju still manages to feel more art-centric than a lot of Seoul (a fledgling world art center). Great murals and street art abounded. Cool little venues, and artist collectives dotted the city. I only saw a few suits the whole time, and may locals seemed to dress down in a stylish and elegant way using traditional Korean accoutrements.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

The food is legendary. I won’t do it any disservice with words.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

Lately, I have become really enamored with a lot of the traditional music styles of Korea, in particular the percussion based “farmers music,” and the cacophonous mess that accompanies shaman cermonies of Guts. (watch this trailer through). In Jeonju, we got to sit in on a pan-sori performance, which is like a black-church spiritual combined with an epic poem, really awesome!

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

Afterwards we got down with some locals at a local makkoli house. The atmosphere was great, closest feeling to a local pub i’ve felt here.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

The locals, of course, were great. Even as I proceeded to stick a camera in many of their faces (a slightly rude bad habit that I am not likely to give up).

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

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Filed under South Korea, street photography, Travel

#36

...“The distance between yourself and others should not be greater than your arm’s length.” – Christophe Agou

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Filed under South Korea, street photography

RESPITE

“Life is like a jungle sometimes…it makes me wonder…how I keep from going under”

Slick Rick put it well. Sometimes the urban routine can get you down. The metaphorical jungle that is a city can be a maelstrom. It can be a cold hard bitch at times (sorry ladies). I have been calling Seoul home for nearly a year, and in that time have found very little respite from the concrete. Most every weekend is spent navigating city streets by bicycle, or wandering clustered markets taking picutres. Thus all the more reason why I so enjoyed a recent trip to explore the nearby coast and mountains.

Vacation days are like magic pots of gold in Korea. Mythical and ever elusive. That’s why when my boss granted me four days off (a swelling euphoria filled me immediately in my office) Lauren and I knew we had to break the routine. Originally we  thought Shanghai, but visa hassles deterred us and eventually we settled on Sokcho, a small fishing town at the foot of Seoraksan Mountain,

Seeing the ocean and open spaces broke the constant views of city sprawl, exploring the markets and derelict spaces in town was also photographically fulfilling. The food was excellent. Anyway, what follows are some scattered frames of the four days we spent in Sokcho and the surrounding mountains.

SOKCHO BLOG
The crags of Seoraksan National Park, taken at dusk into the setting sun. I haven’t shot much landscape photography and know very little about it. But being we saw some spectacular views I felt like I had to try to convey what we saw. (nikon fe2, nikkor 24mm, fuji superia 200).SOKCHO BLOG

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SOKCHO BLOG
There was a Buddhist presence as the moutains of Korea have always been a refuge for temples and monks (especially during Joseon persecution). The quiet spaces ancient temples were a nice break from the neon crosses that light up most of the urban spaces in Korea.
SOKCHO BLOG
SOKCHO BLOG
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SOKCHO BLOG
SOKCHO BLOG
There is a little hermitage on the way up to Ulsanbawi and this sweet grandmother invited us in for coffee while she giggled at us lambasted the Japanese in shirades (which didn’t seem very Buddhist). She let me take one frame of her and that was it.
SOKCHO BLOG
SOKCHO BLOG
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SOKCHO BLOG
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SOKCHO2_82
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The town of Sokcho was a cross between an industrialized fishing village and a seaside resort. Somehow the two combined to create an endearing mix of seascapes and decaying urbanity. Positively charming? I have strange taste.
SOKCHO BLOG
The House Hostel in Sokcho. Seriously recommended. Very affordable, clean, with a great manager who goes out of his way to help.
SOKCHO BLOG
Something about seeing the ocean again

SOKCHO BLOG
SOKCHO BLOG
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SOKCHO BLOG
infamous squid sausage of Abia village
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SOKCHO BLOG
SOKCHO BLOG
some local color
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SOKCHO BLOG
SOKCHO1_12
SOKCHO BLOG
Even in such a scenic place I couldn’t help myself being drawn to the urban scenes. Four days without shooting the street will have me finding any derelict alley or bus stop to snag a frame of.
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SOKCHO BLOG

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Filed under South Korea, Travel

Moran Market, Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do

Last weekend I spent a day wandering around the infamous Moran Market in Seongnam. Exploring the outdoor/indoor labyrinths that are traditional Korean markets is a major pastime of mine; especially with a camera in tow. Documenting the last gasps of these traditional marketplaces when more and more Koreans are preferring the sterile, air-conditioned comforts of large department stores and international supermarkets, has become a quaint obsession.

Moran Market in particular struck me as a place out of time. Held on every day ending in 4 or 9, the market draws vendors from the countryside and swells with an older, crookeder, and more pagan  sense of Korea (no offense meant by this). Besides culinary offerings  I’ve never seen in any other marketplace, Moran seemed to focus more on herbal potions, unconventional foodstuffs, with a generally odder assortment of characters than seen elsewhere. An adult student mentioned that Moran attracts the last rural peasants of Korea who come to sell their wares. If most of those who could (through education, jobs, family) fled the coutryside decades ago, the peasants left behind seem to be of a different stripe. The place had the feel of a backwoods flea market, or a convention of carnies. A very strange atmosphere indeed.

MORAN MARKET

Oddly enough at the gate of the market were several evangelicals preaching the word (a few Buddhists also). They seemed unable to cross into the market threshold (atleast in our imagination). At the other gate we saw some old men shouting religous debate with a cross-waver, snarling in raised tones “where is Jesus, show him to me!!”

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MORAN MARKET

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MORAN MARKET

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MORAN MARKET

MORAN MARKET

#33

MORAN MARKET

MORAN MARKET

MORAN MARKET

MORAN MARKET

MORAN MARKET

...

MORAN MARKET

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Filed under South Korea, street photography

saturday seoul

Spring has sprung in the land of the morning calm, spreading cherry blossoms, bicycles and revelers all over the city. After such an icy and frigid winter everyone is rejoicing at the warmer weather, shunning masks and yellow dust/radiation paranoia to just get outside. The Han paths have been filled with young couples and picnicking families. . It’s nice to be peddling again.

Anyway, last week the songpa stompers were reunited for some explorations. It was good to meet up with friends after hibernating for the winter. We caroused Seoul, took in the river scene, and caught late night action in Hongdae. We all packed some 3200 super grainy Ilford for the night-time (looking forward to seeing the others) and I picked up a new holga during the day. What follows are some frames from 14 odd hours. Hopefully more of such outings to come.

Nikon fe2, Nikkor 24mm, Ilford hp5 125

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

the couples were out in force. the river was thick with them

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

vivitar wide and slim (superheadz remake), agfa 200

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

Once evening rolled around it was time to break out the high speed grain. I usually don’t take cameras out at night (for good reason) but spring was in the air, and the convergence of friends seemed a celebration worth documenting. We strolled Hongdae and caught awesome Busan rockers LHASA do their thing at SSAM SPACE.

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

as the night went on the breakable cameras got tucked away and the toys came out

holga 125, iso 400

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

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Filed under a day out, nikon fe2, seoul, South Korea, street photography

Gangnam at night

Gangnam never had much appeal for me. Sure, the flashy lights are neat, the billowing rows of street food a plus, and the endless clusters of noraebangs and hofs enticing. But the whole place always leaves me a bit bored, at least from a night life standard. That said, I relocated to a new place a little outside the city and every weekend have to catch a bus from Gangnam station home. Last week I strolled around a bit and tried to grab a few frames of the mid-evening cacophony.

I’ve found myself rarely shooting with my dslr lately. I’m not sure why, but I make all kinds of excuses, but I think it settles on the Nikon FX lenses, and how soft and slow they seem to be (at least the ones I can afford.) Lately, I’ve been using my old AI lenses on my dslr and having a much better time. They don’t meter, so a bit of guess work there, but that quirkiness, combined with using stupidly high iso’s has made me break out my old body. Here are a few frames from that pre-bus stroll through river south. Expect more.

gangnam at night

gangnam at night

gangnam at night

gangnam at night

gangnam at night

gangnam at night

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Filed under black and white, seoul, South Korea, street photography

SONGPA STOMPERS #1

A few Saturdays ago the newly minted bicycle/shutter crew took a leisurely ride across the urban expanse of Seoul. From concrete thickets to surrounding hills we filled viewfinders and exposed frames in between peddling. The expedition was a success. Here’s some of the documentation from the bottom of my tires and soles.

Seoulcycle
vivitar ultra wide and slim, superia 200, Han River Path
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vivitar ultra wide and slim, somewhere near Sinseoldong
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vivitar ultra wide and slim, Bukhansan foothills
Cheongyecheon tunnel
vivitar ultra wide and slim, Cheongyecheon stream
Cheongyecheon Reload...
Minolta Srt-100, Cheongyecheon reload
Junk seller's alley
vivitar ultra wide and slim, junk seller’s alley
Ajosshi park, Jongno
Minolta Srt-100, Ajosshis playing GO, Jongno
overexposed chi
Minolta Srt 100, Overexposed Chi, Jongno
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vivitar, ultra wide and slim, up a hill, Northern Seoul
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vivitar ultra wide and slim, down a hill, Gyeongbok Palace
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vivitar ultra wide and slim, Gyeongbuk Palace
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vivitar ultra wide and slim, royal guard
KING SEJONG
vivitar ultra wide and slim, King Sejong
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vivitar ultra wide and slim, being foreign
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Minolta Srt 100, Cheongyecheon
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viviatar, urban decay
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vivitar, urban decay
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Minolta Srt 100, dude, are you weird?
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Minolta Srt 101, the remains of the day

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Filed under 35mm, Film, minolta srt, photos, South Korea, Travel

DOUBLE TROUBLE

HOLGA-135BC-SEOUL, rainy season
HOLGA-135BC-SEOUL

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Filed under 35mm, holga 135 bc, South Korea

ANALOG FRAMES

some celluloid shutters thanks to the affordable stockpile of 35mm film cameras piled high at the Seoul Flea Market.
Seoul Flea Market
Seoul City, Yashica Electro 35
(Mt. Daemason, Seoul, Yashica Electro 35)
Myeongdong- Minolta Srt9
(Japanese tourists, Myeongdong, Seoul, Minolta SRT)
Seoul Street- Yashica Electro 35
(Sock lady, Dongdaemun Market, Seoul, Yashica Electro 35)
Jisan- Minolta Srt
(Daehyun Kim from the 20th Century Boys, Jisan Rock Festival, Minolta SRT)
Seoul Street- Yashica Electro 35
(old men in the park, Jongno, Seoul, Yashica Electro 35)
Seoul City, Holga 135
(Han sailboarders, Holga 135)
Seoul City, Holga 135
(Jamsil Apartment blocks, Seoul, Holga 135)
Seoul City, Yashica Electro 35
(self out of focus, Jamsil, Seoul, Yashica 135)

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Filed under 35mm, Film, holga 135 bc, minolta srt, photos, South Korea, Uncategorized

terror twilight

analog korea, holga 135bc
seoul cityscape from my office window. First roll off the Holga.

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Filed under 35mm, Film, holga 135 bc, photos, South Korea

rainy day

a rainy weekend, a half broken slr, blurry double exposed film, on and on… sometimes the days just blend.
Analog Korea. Minolta SRT. Sometimes the days just blend.
Analog Korea. Minolta SRT.

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Filed under 35mm, Film, minolta srt, photos, South Korea

SEOUL CITY

I’ve been in Seoul for roughly a month.
flight- mt.rainer

I flew over Mt. Rainer outside Seattle. June, and still covered in snow. I thought of bailing and becoming a snowboard instructor. The women sitting next to me said Mt.Rainer doesn’t have runs. And nowhere else is open in the summer.

Soldiers on the Han

I left the States mind full of internet paranoia. Sunken ships and trigger fingers. The first day i stumbled down to the Han and watched young soldiers marching along. But as always once here I’ve forgotten all about it.

random seoul

I rode the subway around before I put my bike together.

Busan,Agit Art Space, Netwrok Party Vol. 0

I visited my old hood in Busan and dug a righteous party at AGIT art space. Swimming in front of that monstrous bridge across the bay.

gwagnali swim

julyseoulgangnam_1

I have my little apartment. I break out the keepsakes and post up pictures of friends and lovers far away.

R-16 GRAFFITTI WALL, OLYMPIC PARK, SEOUL

R-16 B-BOYZ, OLYMPIC PARK, JAMSIL. SEOUL

Checking the graffiti and break dance stance at the Urban Arts festival in my ‘hood.

julyseoulsatbike

julyseoulsatseoul

Han River, Seoul, July 10th, 2009

The past week was all about riding the river trail and checking the weekend action.
That’s about it for catching up.

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Filed under photos, South Korea

BUSAN BLITZ

Goodbye montage. Footage found on the bottom of my shoe. Nikon d5000.

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Filed under Busan, Film, Nightlife, South Korea, Video

towers, asphalt and sky- A Busan time-lapse- Music by DJ Lennart

A little project I’ve been tweaking. Wanted to see how it looked online, still needs some work. Thanks to Lennart Borst for creating the haunting audio.

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Filed under Busan, Film, Music, photos, South Korea, Video

Beomeosa in black and white

Took a Sunday stroll up Guemjeong and witnessed evening rites; visiting bhikkus from Thailand were led around in their orange robes and the abbot of Beomeosa passed everyone a gift of his calligraphy (us too). The temple was muffled in dribbly evening haze. Five people quietly watched the monks exit the hall single file and chant the heart sutra into the mountains like a hoarse fight song; an ode to awakening. Metaphysical mercenaries. Many were quite young. I was surprised. Drums and bells echoed and reverberated, tinkling and bouncing through the evening air as white mist mushroomed off the southern peaks.  It was a long weekend, and a bleary eyed Sunday, also the first day of monsoon season, and the scene, my mind swamped in stale smoke and alcohol,made me wonder why I don’t go up there more often.
beomeosa bw_13

beomeosa bw_12

beomeosa bw_15

beomeosa bw_9

beomeosa bw_7

beomeosa bw_5beomeosa bw (photo by Lauren Woinski)

beomeosa bw

beomeosa bw_1

beomeosa bw_2

beomeosa bw_6

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Filed under Busan, South Korea, Zen Buddhism