A century on, photos come back to Korea

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A century on, photos come back to Korea


“This is from the Australian people to Korea,” said Rodney Hall, a board member of the Australia-Korea Foundation. Koreans have suffered such a great loss of their cultural and historical records, he said, adding that, “It’s a very small gesture.” And with that, he handed over 30 photographs taken by an Australian photographer to the National Institute of Korean History.
Other participants during the presentation, held Sept. 5 at the institute’s building in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi province, included Don Stammer, the chairman of the Australia-Korea Foundation and Yoo Young-nyol, the chairman of the National Institute of Korean History.
The black-and-white photographs were taken by George Rose in 1904, when he traveled through the country recording the daily lives of Koreans. Born in 1861 in the mining town of Clunes in southern Australia, Mr. Rose developed an interest in photograph early in his childhood, taking images of the woods and natural surroundings of his home. When he was only 19, he founded the Rose Stereograph Company.
The photographer used a special type of camera that used two lenses to record two pictures which can then be merged to produce a 3-D effect. All the photographs that were donated this month used this technique to produce the images.
Later on, he traveled extensively, going to such places as New Zealand, Europe, North Africa, Japan and Korea, while taking pictures of countries and people there.
Unlike many other photographs that were taken by foreigners in Korea during the earlier part of the last century, Mr. Rose’s are in excellent condition and show a professional consistency, making them valuable research material as well as artistic assets.
“These photographs... show another dimension of the history of Korea during the Japanese-Russian war, especially now that the general public has access to them,” said Mr. Yoo.
These images were first shown to the Korean public in 2002 as a part of the Australia-Korea Foundation’s 10th anniversary festival. Since then, aided by the National Association of Culture and Arts Centers, they showed in various local galleries. In April 2005, they were featured at the Incheon Cultural Centre for Students.
The works will be placed in the new annex of the National Institue of Korean History in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi province.

by Cho Jae-eun
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