Australians celebrate 100 years of photos, here and at home

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Australians celebrate 100 years of photos, here and at home

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Photos taken by an Australian provide a glimpse into the streets and daily lives of Korea 100 years ago, during the late Joseon Dynasty. In an adjacent room are images of Australia taken by Koreans a century later.
George Rose (1861-1942) visited Korea for eight months in 1904 on his way to China from Japan. During that time, he traveled from Busan to Incheon, Seoul and Pyongyang taking photographs of street scenes. Thirty of those photos are now being displayed at the Korea Foundation Cultural Center, under the title, “Celebrate Australia-Korea Photographic Exhibition,” held by Tourism Australia, the Australia-Korea Foundation and the Australian Embassy in Korea. The exhibition ends on Saturday and is free of charge.
Looking at his photos, it’s surprising to see Japanese policemen already wandering around downtown Seoul ― the photos were taken before the Japanese colonial period.
“According to Rose’s notes, about 40 percent of the Seoul population was already Japanese when he visited,” said Lee Hyo-jin, executive officer of the Australia-Korea Foundation. Another photo caption reads, “Rose said the Japanese influence in Korea was most apparent in Busan, the closest point to Japan.”
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“Rose himself is assumed to have traveled to Korea with a Japanese tour guide, as the same Japanese man appears in many of his photos,” Ms. Lee added.
In another photo, one can see the high walls that once surrounded Seoul, though deep in the background of the scene. “It’s very surprising that people attempted to climb the walls. Maybe they were too lazy to walk around to the gate,” Ms. Lee joked. “In the photos, it’s more fun to look for such details and to find small stories in them.”
Along with the 30 photos of the Korean landscape, 37 photos of everyday scenes from the late 20th century in Australia, also taken by Rose, are on display, providing a glimpse of old Aussie life.
One of the photos shows people crowded at a horserace on Melbourne Cup Day, Australia’s most famous race. “It’s still a public holiday in Victoria. It’s interesting to look at all the Australians wearing hats who were going gambling back then. It was tradition, I heard,” Ms. Lee said. Melbourne Cup Day takes place on the first Tuesday of November.
Rose took photos in about 40 nations and was well known for using a Stereographic camera, which has two lenses spaced as far apart as a person’s eyes. The camera made dual images, so that with a special viewer the photos can been seen in 3-D ― 16 of the photos can be viewed this way.
A separate room shows “Australia seen by Korea in 2006.” The Australia-Korea Foundation and Tourism Australia held an online contest for photos of Australia taken by Korean travelers and amateur photographers. About 1,200 works were submitted, of which 50 were selected. The winning photo is a Tasmanian scene taken by Jo Taki, who studied far north in Cairns last year.
“Even though it’s not easy for non-Australians to recognize that the scene is Australian, we gave the most points on the photo, because it’s a dying scene of Australia that we probably won’t be able to see in a few years due to urbanization,” Ms. Lee said. The colors in the photo also suggest the warmth and calm of the countryside, she added.


by Park Sung-ha

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