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2012, Dec 19
Could Photos From Fukushima Bring Japan and Korea Closer Together?

© Chu-Ha Chung

I have neglected to post links to some of the things that I’ve written for American Photo over the past couple of months, and while I’m planning to do a larger link dump, I want to highlight one post in particular since it relates directly to Japan. It’s a long piece on the work of a Korean photographer, Chu-Ha Chung 1, who traveled to Fukushima in the wake of the 3/11 nuclear accident to take photos there. If you keep an eye on Asian news you’ll be aware that tensions between Japan and Korea are running extremely high, and the name of Chung’s project, “Does Spring Come To Stolen Fields?”, references the title of a famous Korean poem written under Japanese occupation. However, Chung is very sincere about creating understanding through his work, and I think his project deserves a careful look.


Tags (3)

3/11 Earthquake, Chu-Ha Chung, Korea

Comments (5)


Erm, Dan, I’m most willing to give this a careful look, but how might I do so? In your longer article you write of Chung’s “eventually holding an exhibition at Seoul’s Peace Museum and publishing a book, all under the name ‘Does Spring Come To Stolen Fields?’,” but I think that this is as specific as it gets, and my (incompetent?) googling doesn’t turn up more. Got some links, or even an ISBN?

Ah, yes, Does Spring Come to Stolen Fields is available here:

A page all in Korean

And the ISBN of A Pleasant Day is 9788974091873.

Excellent, thank you! With that info (plus a bit of ingenuity and patience), I should be able to locate a copy of the book in January.

Thanks for the thought-provoking piece. After reading it and the poem, however, I can’t avoid identifying most with the local man who chided the interlopers with their cameras. I struggle to see the “conscious effort to break through this disconnect,” and find myself seeing something more like exploitation. Any sympathy they show for the victims of 3-11 comes across as highly conditional.

In any case, I think this is an excellent site and look forward to reading more.

Hey Glenn, thanks for the comment.

I do think that the reaction of the local person—and the lack of any defense against it—is significant; Seo’s text is very long (I think it would be OK to send it to you if you are interested) but I wanted to make a point of representing that episode. I think I understand what you mean about “exploitation.” Still, I don’t think it would be fair to say that Chung’s photos are worse than what other Japanese photographers have done. (Have you seen Rinko Kawauchi’s “Light and Shadow” book?) Anyway, I don’t want to defend Chung’s work on such negative terms, but the reaction of the local person wasn’t directed towards him in particular.