Images from Korea

A faculty photography exhibit will be on display through March 15.

Yechon, Republic of Korea, 1960s. David R. McCann says, “I remember the expressions of the kids in Korea were always full of life. One interesting thing about these kids I noticed was the way they naturally split up according to gender.”
Andong, Republic of Korea, late 1960s. David R. McCann says, “This photo is of a very nice fellow, Mr. Yi, who was an English teacher at the Andong Agriculture and Forestry High School. He came to the school in the second year that I was there to teach, and I got to know him and his wife very well. This photo was taken one day when we went up a hill and looked out over Andong.”
Andong, Republic of Korea, late 1960s. David R. McCann says, “There was a soccer game one weekend, with a big crowd that had come to watch. This photo shows some students from Andong Agriculture and Forestry High School, where I used to teach, climbing up on a tree to get a better look at the game. The most impressive thing here is the boy balancing himself on the bicycle.”
<i>The Kwibong House</i> - Andong, Kyŏngsang Province, Republic of Korea, August 2003. Sun Joo Kim says, “This house is the residence of the direct lineal descendants of Kim Su-il. It is believed to have been originally built in 1660. It is called the Kwibong House after Kim Su-il’s penname. The house was extensively renovated especially in 1888.”
<i>Medicinal Herb Shop at the T’ongin Market</i> - Seoul, Republic of Korea, July 2011. Sun Joo Kim says, “The installation art of the traditionally dressed boy who peers over a fence into the shop was part of the T’ongin Market Project to revitalize traditional markets, designed by local artists who believe that arts must get out of artists’ studios and galleries.”

David R. McCann was so in awe that he had to take pictures. South Korea’s countryside in 1966 was unlike anything he’d ever seen.

“I kept looking at these beautiful hills and mountains and there were literally no trees at all,” says McCann, Korea Foundation professor of Korean literature, remembering his Peace Corps days during a phone interview. “They had all been cut down for fuel during the war.”

The country's other great surprise, for a foreigner such as McCann? “The people,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how warm and welcoming they were. I loved it immediately.”

McCann’s photographs, which include everything from barren vistas to children’s soccer games, are among dozens taken by Harvard faculty members who’ve visited Korea. These are part of a new exhibit celebrating the Korea Institute’s 30th anniversaryImages of Korea, on display in the lobby of the CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge St., will run through March 15.

Some photographs are contemporary, such as those shot last July by Harvard-Yenching professor of Korean history and institute director Sun Joo Kim. In one of her images, Korean artists have assigned proverbs to various herbs in a medicinal herb shop at the T’ongin Market in Seoul. In another, beautiful lotuses, a Buddhist symbol of purity and rebirth, glisten with rain in one of South Korea’s sweeping, man-made lotus gardens.

McCann, shooting with a 35-millimeter Canon camera, chronicled a hike with a fellow English teacher and his wife in the Andong countryside. In the small village of Yechon, curious children gathered around his camera; boys in Andong, near the school where McCann taught, climbed trees to get a better view of a soccer game.

“They created their own bleachers,” McCann remembered fondly. “One boy balanced himself on a bicycle and it struck me as really funny. There is a sense of humor in a lot of these photos, not just mine. It’s a lot of fun, and very encouraging.”

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