Photographers

Stories from South Korea

Stories from South Korea

The Art of Adventure - Bruce Percy

My good friend Kidoo is my only South Korean workshop participant. He found out about me through a mutual acquaintance while he was on an Iceland tour. Since around 2015, we have been good friends.

Back in 2018, Kidoo suggested I come out to South Korea, which is what I did around December. It was bitterly cold in Seoul, but there was no snow. My first impressions of South Korea was of how urbanised the entire country appears to be. We drove for many hours to reach the coast line and in that time, I hardly saw any nature.

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We were together for around nine days, and over that time, I found it very very hard work to find anything that I wanted to shoot, and although Kidoo kept apologising, I kept telling him ‘there must be something there because I’ve shot around 18 rolls of film’. I never shoot unless I really think it’s of some kind of merit, and I’ve been on many trips where I shot zero. So I was definitely of the opinion that something was in the films.

I remember when I got home and looked at the completed edited work. I thought ‘these are really nice, better than anticipated’ and even Kidoo was surprised at how good they turned out. It has always been a reminder to me that work can sometimes progress in small, almost imperceptible amounts. You can be fooled into thinking you’re recording nothing, only to find out later that there is indeed a story that will surface, once you have time to curate and edit.

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The funniest memory I have of my brief time in South Koreas, was when we reached some very remote landscape. A real boondocks place, very rural, no tourism, and Kidoo said to me ‘you may be the 2nd European photographer to ever visit here’. The first being Michael Kenna, as Michael has photographed South Korea quite extensively.

A few minutes later we spied an old lady in her 70’s with a Hasselblad medium format film camera. She was South Korean and a big film fan. Her first question to both of us was ‘Have you heard of Michael Kenna?’

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