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Documentary photography: Capturing life, Vol. 14 - 2007, No. 3

Photography, Memory and Nostalgia: A Critical Look at the Documentary Tradition in Korea

, pages: 65-78[open access]

Based on the photographs of Ki-chan Kim, this essay examines how the tradition of documentary photography in Korea evolved in terms of subject, style, and ways of seeing. It emerged as a humanistic response to the harsh social reality of the 1940s in an oppressive political atmosphere for photographers dealing with socially sensitive subjects. Hence, a compromise between roles of the arts and social muckraking characterised the evolving documentary tradition. In documenting the back streets of Seoul, Kim tends to reduce a subject with broad social implications to an introspective story of personal memory, thus representing the Korean documentary tradition.

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