Art, Film, Photography

Busan: 부산




IMG_0460.JPGI took these in Busan. It’s the city I was born in before our family moved to New York in 1992.

The woman in the hat with her head turned is my aunt. She’s my dad’s older sister. She has two sons–my cousins who are both a couple of years older than I am–but one of them passed away at the age of 27. I was 22 when I heard the news. It was really shocking and horrible. Despite her loss, she’s a strong woman with a generally positive outlook on life and I love her for that.

The women with the hats and the rubber gloves are “hae-nyeo”–otherwise known as women of the sea. They’re diver women who forage underwater for seafood like sea urchins, sea cucumbers, clams, oysters, mussels, etc. It’s a historic profession: these women who lived by the ocean had to dive for food in order to feed their children while their men were drafted away to war.

They’re profession is becoming rare. A Fulbright fellow from the same year as me named Liz Chae made a film called THE LAST MERMAIDS in 2009. It’s about the divers of Jeju island:


Art, Film, Photography

my hood in Seoul: Buamdong (부암동)






Buamdong is a quaint town in Seoul. It’s in the Jongno-gu area and full of hiking areas and some historic landmarks like walls that were built to keep invaders out. It’s full of small cafes, little bars, and the Kim Whanki Museum. It’s my favorite neighborhood in Seoul and I miss it all the time.

These photos were taken on a disposable Kodak color film camera. Spring 2010.

Art, Essay, Film, Photography

me & my grandmother in Korea’s countryside pt. II





The cows in Hapcheon moo constantly. When I complained about their mooing, my grandmother promptly said that cows have a right to sing, too, and she is quite right.

That blue gate is very memorable to me. After I left Korea for the states, all I ever did was think about those blue gates. Whenever I got lost as a child in the village (impossible to get lost in bc it’s so tiny), I always knew my way back home bc of those gates.

My grandmother used to take me into the greenhouse when I was very little. To this day, the smell inside of a greenhouse makes me tearful and nostalgic. The greenhouse she took me to were filled with strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes. Even the shape of a greenhouse’s hull (the plastic covering is removed in the one here) fills me with longing for that past.

Art, Film, Photography

me & my grandmother in Korea’s countryside




IMG_0474.JPGmy grandmother picking berries for me from that tree. small, round, sweet and tart.

I’m feeling especially nostalgic these days in part due to the fall weather but also bc my grandmother’s been ill since last year. I’m her first granddaughter and she raised me during the first several years of my life at her farm house with cows, pigs, chicken, cat, bees, silkworms, chestnut trees, persimmon trees, rice patties and rows of farmland for potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, red leaf lettuce, peanuts, onions, spinach, etc. I was really happy back then. This is me visiting her nearly 2 decades later after living in New York save for seeing her on three separate occasions (once in 2003, once in 2004, and again in 2009).

Photos were taken in spring 2010 in Hapcheon, South Korea (Ssang-baek village where my mother was born).

(part two coming at 3PM EST)