Black goats grazing on that farm alongside a woman with a basket full of fruits, let alone a farm, is the last thing you might expect to see in the middle of Gwanghwamun. Separately, all of these images might feel familiar to any Korean but as one photo collage, there’s an extended sense of reality. With a little background knowledge, you may even be able to decipher photographer Won
Seong-won’s backstory from the photos.
"Jongno-gu Ssangbaek-ri Story” is a recreation of her husband’s father’s story. When her husband was young, his father dreamed of sending his son to school in Seoul so that he could be successful. However, her husband never managed to get into college in Seoul and his father drank his life away until he eventually died in an accident. The series “Seven Year Old” shows how she tried to console herself as a child when her mother had to go to work and leave her home alone. For the series, she revives 1970s Seoul and adds details such as a Christmas tree or a playground to give it a sense of childhood nostalgia.
Drawing inspiration from her history and the people around her, Won explains that once she decides on a theme, she first adds the protagonist and then looks for photographs to fill the frame. She does several photo shoots at numerous locations and doesn’t finish until she is satisfied with the end product. Sometimes, this means that she even has to wait for the seasons to change and it can easily take up to two years for a work to be completed.
Won says that “work is a language” and it’s clear that her photos have fairy-tale-like stories imbued in them. Perhaps because her subject matter is always so personal, the viewer can feel a sense of intimacy while studying them. Take a look and allow yourself be transported to another world.