The war had taken away many things. Not only had it mercilessly trampled down on our beloved families and neighbors, but also their happiness, hope, and furthermore humanity itself. As if that wasn't enough, by the end it had utterly destroyed everything on the face of the earth leaving behind ruins, despair, famine and sorrow.
The sudden advent of the 38th parallel paled a short-lived bliss of national independence, and thus opened up the tragic 1950's. At the height of the Korean war I was moving across the front lines as a soldier experiencing this tragedy, witnessing countless scenes that enraged me.
I left the army with these horrific memories intact and found myself in the middle of a life which still bore traces of soot from the war. But what was even more surprising and astounding at the same time was perhaps the ordinary fact that 'people lived on' nevertheless. Although a sense of futility, sadness, shock, and despair lingered on, people were putting down their roots on the ground trying to find their place in this world.
Though struggling with the multifaceted after-effects of Korean war, the 1950's was period of recovery. I was able to find hope watching cities and rural communities being rebuilt, in bustling the markets and the sparkling eyes of children the laughter I had forgotten. Slowly but steadily I was recovering my own humanity.
Looking back on the thirty years I have spent capturing an era of upheaval, perhaps passion was the only thing I had, and today I have a book. I realize now that this was what led me to a lifetime of photography in which I gradually opened my eyes to photography and moreover the wonders of life itself.
Korea and its people have seen massive growth in a span of three of decades. Retrospection in the cold days of you may be distressing, but wouldn't one agree that the past is the mother of today?
I call out to the people of the past as lay myself on the lap of <Life>, that which has brought me up and on which I must continue to rely and learn about till the day I die.
People in a period of recovery
Text by Youngsoo Han from "Life"