Photographer pries into remote areas

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Photographer pries into remote areas

After eight years of taking photographs of birds, wild flowers and the landscapes of remote islands in South Jeolla province and the Yellow Sea, Go Gyeong-nam, 42, said he wanted to show mainland dwellers landscapes from desolate and rugged islands.
To do so, Mr. Go took pictures of the hills on Uyi Island, which seem to change shape when the wind blows, as well as Songgongsan swamp on Aphae Island and other areas of untouched natural beauty on islands in Sinan county.
Mr. Go ― who has worked in a county library on Aphae Island since 1996 ― most recently held an exhibition of pictures of landscapes, wild birds and flowers at Mokpo Culture & Art Center. His interest in photography did not begin with scenes of nature, however.
“When I returned home after finishing college and military service, I found that old goods and traditional farming equipment were sold to museums or collectors or were just thrown out,” Mr. Go said.
The native of Docho Island, Sinan county, decided to record as many of the region’s historical and cultural assets as he could before they disappeared. In 1998, he spent a relative fortune on a digital camera and began taking pictures as he ambled around the area. But before too long, Mr. Go developed an interest in the region’s wild flowers and migratory birds.
Sinan county consists of 72 inhabited and 755 uninhabited islands, of which Mr. Go has so far explored about 660. Counting islands in Sinan county and other islands in Jindo county, he has taken photographs on more than 1,000 islands. To visit the more remote outposts, Mr. Go has had to pay the owners of fishing boats up to 500,000 won ($532) for the ride.
“I was always away from home on weekends and holidays and spent a lot of money,” said Mr. Go. “Of course, my wife didn’t like it. When I began taking pictures, I had many arguments with her.”
Mr. Go was eventually able to convince his wife, the 39-year-old Lee Seon-ok, of the significance and beauty of his photography; since 2001, Ms. Lee has accompanied him on his trips.
The couple has snapped 900 types of wild flowers, 317 species of birds and scores of cultural relics. In recognition of his efforts, the Sinan county tourism office employed him for 14 months from December 2000, during which time a number of attractions in the area were officially registered as cultural assets.

by Lee Hai-suk
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