First Smog vs. Hurricane Ophelia

The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia have made land in the UK today. Being in the North of England, I have been fortunate to be out of the main storm’s path but for around four hours we experienced a strange phenomenon that seemed, to me, to be straight out of Korea…

Cutting down my photos for my exhibition, I realised that a lot of my images were shot in clear, beautiful days or balmy, electric nights and it took me a while to realise that this was not the Korea of my every day experience! Many days, of course, were filled with brilliant, high, pristine skies (like the one below) but many were also consumed with thick, treacle-y smog that scratched your throat and made your eyes strain for the nearest mountain.

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‘Just another diamond day’ ~ Suwon

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Gyejoksan and a lack of Ajummas

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Korea is a land of Ajummas. Middle-oldaged women, are often called ‘Ajummas’ – a term for an Aunty. They are an integral part of walking here; whether you are going for a stroll in your local park or climb a mountain, Ajummas with their fluorescent, clashing, headache-inducing outfits, bells, radios, hiking sticks and fondness for spitting will always be there. I have grown so used to their presence that it was a surprise to me to climb a mountain in Daejeon where there were so few (or indeed, many other people at all).

Welcome to winter climbing.

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Seoul Lantern Festival

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Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon Stream is the setting for the capital’s yearly Lantern Festival. It seems that many cities in Korea have lantern festivals (for any reason at all really) but Seoul’s was the first one that I read about and it was high up on my list of things to see in Korea.

Cheonggyecheon stream was covered by the city above for many years but was reclaimed and reopened in 2005. It is beautiful all year round but at Lantern Festival, it is transformed into a magical place.

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Interior

My fascination with spaces, real and imaginary, stems from the moment my art teacher, Katy, introduced me to the work of Rachel Whiteread.

Writeread’s Turner-prize winning piece was called ‘House’ and in this piece she solidified empty space, the memories of the home and the lives that it once contained. It captivated me. The idea that the moments that create life can be contained in the space between things is something that I regularly think about and sometimes cannot help but photograph. It was in my last trip to Seoul that I found myself peering into these semi-private spaces.

These are the images and the moments that I took.

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Protests in Seoul.

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I woke up, like many, to the news of the Paris attacks. This shook me immensely and thoughts of Paris, a city that I have loved for many years, coloured my thoughts during the day.

We were in Seoul for the annual lantern festival. In the hours before, we decided to wander around. We had been warned of the protests by the hotel manager but headed to the city centre area regardless, it was a place that we had not really explored before now and we thought that the protests would be like all the others that we had seen in Korea; quiet and unassuming.

However, we were met by an extraordinary amount of police officers. Thousands lined the streets. All dressed in riot gear, they cut a formidable sight as we walked towards the tourist downtown area.

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