This was part of a large sign with names of donors who helped build Dorasan Station, the last stop before entering North Korea by train. The rail line was used at one point for a joint economic venture between North and South. In 2008, The North Koreans shut the program down and closed the border after only one year of use. The South Koreans seem really saddened by the divide. One sign at the station reads: “Not the last station from the South, But the first station toward the North.”
I took a day trip to the DMZ which is the 2.5 mile (heavily fortified) buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea. It was cold, windy, and pouring rain. It just felt like a bad place. The village in the distance is called Kijong-dong or “Peace Village” but our American GI tour guides told us everyone calls it propaganda village. There’s actually no one living in the village. It’s just made to look like a bustling and modern city to entice South Koreans to defect to the North. Most of the larger buildings are hollow on the inside. They GIs could tell because the lighting faded from the top floors to the bottom. Smoke and mirrors…
Side Note: I shot this with my Lomo on Kodak Portra 400 because my 5D Mark II got soaked and stopped working a few hours into the tour. Doh!
It’s a shame to me that most of the goods and products we buy have such a short lifespan.
My personal work has a tendency to be quiet, moody, even a little on the dark side. Yet, I shoot mostly bright, happy, beautiful things for my clients. I suppose it’s a ying-yang kind of thing: To know happiness, you need to know sadness.
Though I shot this a while ago, I do remember that even in reality the angles of this building defied logic. As you walked under it, you felt like it was going to topple over. It was just too big for where it was built.
When I ran into this sign, I headed out in the direction it was pointing. For me, that’s what photo walks are all about. Taking cues from around you and seeing where it take you. I love doing this in foreign countries, especially when the language (or characters) mean nothing to me. You really don’t know where you’ll end up.
I took this shot because to me it symbolized the division of North and South Korea. The South is bustling with industry and urbanism. The North is a mysterious place obscured by rumors and propaganda. During my trip to South Korea last year, I couldn’t help but feel this divide all around me. It was a sad and lonely feeling mixed with the ever present fear of war and destruction.