For self-portaits, nobody clicks like this group

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For self-portaits, nobody clicks like this group

They don't go anywhere without their digital cameras, and their favorite subjects are themselves.

Members of the Self Camera Club like nothing more than to take pictures of themselves and post them on their Web site, self.cyworld.com. Along with the fresh images of members sitting at their office desks or sporting sunglasses while strolling in a park, the posts include cheerful, amusing notes, which other members like to comment on.

Is this an exercise in art, vanity, or just a way to have fun? "Posting my photos on the Web site gives me great satisfaction and a chance to examine myself from every angle possible," says Kim Hee-jung, 22 and one of the three members who founded the club. "There is a limit to what you can see in the mirror, but the camera lens gives perspectives that you never knew about."

Ms. Kim and two of her close friends in Busan created the club a few months ago, after they all bought digital cameras. Another founding member, Jung Seung-eun, explained, "The three of us would sit around restaurants or cafes and take pictures of ourselves." The other member left for Canada recently to take a language course.

In the club's early phases the three girls were the only people to post photos on the Web site. But other people heard about the club and asked to join, and today the club has 71 members all across the country.

On a recent early morning at a fast-food restaurant in Busan, this reporter sat down with Ms. Kim and Ms. Jung, who drew their cameras right away and insisted on taking a photo of him. Ms. Kim said members of her club are always ready to shoot anything of interest. "You can recognize people like us, we are always restless, searching for something or someone," she said. "When there's nothing to take a picture of we'll set something up, like leftovers on our plate or soda cans on tables."

The women take pictures outside, too, but sometimes it gets them in trouble. Ms. Kim said she was once mistaken for a "car-parazzo," or a person who takes photos of cars violating traffic rules, and was yelled at. "I had to convince drivers that I wasn't what they thought I was."

When Ms. Kim and the club members get home, they still don't put the cameras down. They take shots of themselves lounging around, in front of big mirrors, or even in the bathroom.

The club does meet offline, usually at a bar in Busan. "You have to be really careful at the meetings or you'll have a picture of yourself up on the site the next day looking drunk and hideous," Ms. Kim said.

Ms. Jung says some of the pictures she posts she later regrets, like one taken just before she fell asleep one night and another when she woke up. "You need to be a narcissist to take pictures of yourself," she said. "But I think we are all at least a little narcissistic."

So does their hobby help or hurt their social lives? Neither woman has a boyfriend now, but both say they're in the market, especially with Christmas coming. Meanwhile, they keep clicking.

by Lee Ho-jeong

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