Photos that are feminine, fiery and KoreanThe faces range from a newborn baby to a 96-year-old lady ― 274 in all, all women, beautiful and proud.
In one picture is Choi Gyeong-ja, a 96-year old famous fashion designer who insisted that she would wear high heels in front of a camera. On the other page is a baby girl.
“Woman Being,” a book of photographs documenting the lives of women in Korea, captures a diverse array of feminine form, with both celebrities and ordinary Korean women.
The photographs were also put together for an exhibition by Vogue Korea ― something close to a fashion bible for young women ― to celebrate the magazine’s 10th anniversary at Gallery Won in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul. The images were compiled by 20 photographers who have contributed to Vogue Korea in the past.
If photographs were music, this would be jazz mixed with traditional Korean singing; rock and roll mixed with trot. The book peeks into the world of Korean women and finds glamorous, fleeting images.
At 22 Jang Mi-ran, a female bodybuilder capable of lifting 138 kilograms (304 pounds), came to the photo shoot after hours of training. Also included was Harisu, a 31-year-old transgender model and actress who is now officially a woman, after Korea’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that people who have sex change operations must be legally recognized according to their new gender.
Ms. Ha now owns a social insurance number on her resident’s registration card that begins with a “2,” the number for women.
“I am happy to exist in this world as a woman,” she said. To express her satisfaction, she took off her bra for the shoot. In the photograph, she is posed bare-chested, covering her breasts with her hands.
The photographs, however, are more than just young bodies. The subjects include Yun Jeong-hee, 63, an actress who still describes her acting career “as having the taste of honey.”
The veteran actress Jang Mi-hee was captured on camera riding a camel; Ji Chun-hee, a popular designer, posed with both her step-daughter and biological daughter; the comedian Kim Mi-hwa also posed with her daughter; Cho Sun-hee, a popular fashion photographer, is shown in late pregnancy; the artist Nancy Lang sits pristinely for the camera.
There are policewomen, bodyguards, Buddhist nuns, pastors, shamans, firewomen, fisherwomen, a handicapped nude model, an animal trainer, a car racer, models and celebrities from the old days and a woman in the middle of giving birth. The exhibition shows a wide spectrum of modern Korean women, shot by some of the top Korean portrait photographers.
In the picture of the face of the veteran novelist Park Wan-seo, 75, she exudes a complete sense of female sexuality combined with maturity.
As hinted at in her statement ― “The power behind my literature was my mother” ― there is a sense of maternal pride, a glimpse into the faces of dignity in a land of strong women.
by Jung Jae-suk
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