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Exhibit offers 390 visions of Korea’s Dokdo islets

Oct 23,2017
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From left: Photographer and journalist Yang Jae-myung’s “Dokdo Elegy 2017,” a panoramic photograph of Dokdo; the “2017 Beautiful Island of Korea, Dokdo” exhibition, which runs through Nov. 5 at Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul; photographer and journalist Yang Jae-myung. [YANG JAE-MYUNG, YOON SO-YEON]
Dokdo is the easternmost territory of Korea, located in the middle of the East Sea. While the Korean and Japanese governments disagree over who has the lawful right over the rocky islets, artists and photographers are working to remind the public of the beauty and significance of this forlorn place.

On Oct. 20, the Corea Forum of Design (Cofod) held an opening ceremony for the “2017 Beautiful Island of Korea, Dokdo” exhibition, a collaboration among 390 Korean and international artists who have each contributed a piece to be displayed at the Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul.

Journalist and photographer Yang Jae-myung shot “Dokdo Elegy 2017,” a panoramic view of Dokdo from afar. Yang has captured the beautiful islets against the backdrop of a clear blue sky at a wide angle.

“I wanted to shoot a new side of Dokdo, not something you see everyday,” said Yang.

Starting from an early age, Yang has lived his whole life with cameras.

“I started shooting when I was 15, when my father bought me a camera from Japan, which was really expensive back then,” said the veteran photographer. “It was fun for me, so I made a career out of it. I majored in photography in university, then I went to Japan to study advertising photography. So when I took the shot for this exhibition, I wanted people to feel as though they were seeing a spectacular scene like something out of an advertisement.”

According to Yang, who currently works as a foreign correspondent for the Chinese magazine Golden Bridge, it’s definitely hard for individuals to travel to Dokdo and see it for themselves. When he visited the islets with 27 other members from Cofod, including President Bae Seong-mee, it took him 10 hours to travel there from Seoul.

“It’s easy for a photograph of scenery to be really plain,” Yang said, “but I chose to capture the full view of the islets instead of an ordinary view. People can only stay for 20 minutes on the island, and I think that’s one of the things that makes it harder for people to appreciate Dokdo. I was lucky to stay a full hour, but I wish I had more time to shoot.”

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]


The exhibition runs through Nov. 5, at SAC’s Calligraphy Art Museum. Admission is free.