“Even if the leaders of the two Koreas quarrel and fight, ethnic homogeneity does not change.”
Photographer Lim Jong-jin went to North Korea six times and took pictures from 1997 to 2006, working as a photographer for the monthly magazine Mal and the Hankyoreh. Five of these were solo shoots.
When a South Korean reporter shoots in the North, most of them only capture a limited number of scenes in a limited place. Because it is controlled by the North.
By the way, Lim is one of the very few reporters who freely filmed North Koreans.
While filming, he had a comfortable conversation with the residents. This situation is conveyed intact through Lim’s photographs.
When inter-Korean exchanges first began in the late 1990s, there were occasional reporters who filmed relatively freely in the North. However, the North Korean authorities started to control it after seeing that the photos taken in the North were reported negatively by the South Korean media.
It seems that the fact that Lim was a reporter for a media friendly to the North also played a role in the background in which Lim was able to visit North Korea and film freely. In 1989, the monthly magazine Mal reported on the unconverted long-term prisoner Lee In-mo, and in 1991, the Rodong Sinmun and Pyongyang Broadcasting Corporation demanded the repatriation of Lee In-mo, covering the report of Mal. Lee In-mo was repatriated in 1993, died in 2007, and was buried at the Patriotic Martyrs’ Tomb in Pyongyang.
Lim said, “At the time, when the company asked for an invitation to North Korea, the North happily sent an invitation.”
Regarding the secret to ensuring that the North Korean authorities did not restrict taking pictures, he said, “In the South, the North is often seen as an uncomfortable or oppressive image, but when I came to the North, I saw that it was not.” I couldn’t do it, but I asked him to trust me, and the North Korean guide accepted it favorably.”
However, they remembered that they said that the statue of President Kim Il-sung or Chairman Kim Jong-il was not covered or distorted.
One of the guides at the time was Kim Seong-hye, head of the North Korean Chosun Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, who often appeared at inter-Korean talks. Lim said of Seong-hye Kim, “I call her sister and brother,” and assumed that Seong-hye Kim at the time did not hold a high-ranking position, but she may have helped the authorities to permit the filming. I remembered hearing that I was the only South Korean photojournalist I know.”
Lim said, “The image North Korea shows to the South is compressed into ‘strong People’s Army,’ ‘poor figure,’ and ‘collectivism.’ He emphasized that there was no national identity and felt that ethnic homogeneity was maintained despite the division in 1975.” He then
showed photos taken in North Korea and explained the situation at the time and the ethnic homogeneity he felt.
I went to North Korea in turn and received the photos I took and listened to explanations one by one.”This picture was taken along the Daedonggang River when I first went to North Korea in November 1998. I’ve taken pictures in many countries, but I haven’t seen people squatting comfortably for a long time like people in Korea. is”
“This is a picture of the kindergarten teacher and the children in the park. The children are pointing at the bushes in the pond and the teacher is smiling. It was like seeing my nieces and nephews.”
“They are children playing in the park in spring. They are making something by picking azalea flower”I’m a singing child, but I’m imitating an adult. In North Korea, trying to make a child look like an adult is polite to guests.”s. It feels like when I was growing up in the countryside.””I heard a song and approached it, but there were girls playing rubber bands. It rhymed very similarly to ours.””Look at the boy’s expression. Isn’t it very playful? The scene where the boy cuts the rubber band. The girls don’t know that the rubber band is broken yet. We boys also did a lot of pranks when we were little.””These are students who come out after finishing group gymnastics. They say they are selected from all over the country. Students feel a sense of accomplishment because the crowd likes them. Don’t we have memories like that in our school days? Doesn’t it feel different from the stiff group gymnastics you see in the media?””They are children playing in the park in spring. They are making something by picking azalea flower안전놀이터“I’m a singing child, but I’m imitating an adult. In North Korea, trying to make a child look like an adult is polite to guests.”s. It feels like when I was growing up in the countryside.””I heard a song and approached it, but there were girls playing rubber bands. It rhymed very similarly to ours.””Look at the boy’s expression. Isn’t it very playful? The scene where the boy cuts the rubber band. The girls don’t know“They are students of Kim Il-sung University. We met by the Daedong River. It seems that class ended a little early, so we went outside. When I said that I was from Seoul, they welcomed me and hung out with me because I had no other schedule. I was proud.” that the rubber band is broken yet. We boys also did a lot of pranks when we were little.”
“This is another student I met at the same place that day. I just shyly smiled and introduced myself as Jang Ryu-jin of the Department of Economics at Kim Il-sung University. It was a clear and naive feeling. I heard that you later became a reporter.””They are students from another university. I sang while playing guitar on the boat. I also sang Ahn Chi-hwan’s ‘Wilderness’ and the students really liked it.””This is a North Korean lover. It’s like whispering in the forest. It’s like a lover that’s no different from us.””The newlyweds. Below is a couple filming their wedding. Can you see the man holding a video camera in front of you? I said, ‘I’m from Seoul.’ I think the groom raised his right arm to the bride looking at me and said, ‘Let’s go quickly’.””This is a scene where a father plays with his children in a playground””See the bottle on the lower right? They’re guys drinking and playing cards in the park.”“These are the citizens who came out to see the autumn leaves at Jeongbangsan Mountain.These are people waiting for the bus to go home before the Chuseok holiday. They smoked, picked up flowers, and ate food while waiting for the bus.”
“This is a picture of the Chuseok visit to the grave. The elderly grandmother was looking at the name of the deceased written on the tombstone. It reminded me of my grandmother a lot. The picture below is a picture of the whole family going to the grave, packing food and flowers. Grandmother It was difficult to walk, so it was impressive to see the sons walking hand in hand on both sides
He asked him what he thought of the poll results that were recently released amidst the nuclear confrontation between the two Koreas.
According to the civic group Bareun Press Civic Action released last month, 61% of respondents in their 20s and 30s said that ‘unification is not absolutely necessary’, and 88% answered that they ‘feel unfavorable towards North Korea’.
Regarding this, Lim said, “Even if citizens want to know about North Korea, there is no window to find out, and even if they want to meet, there is no opportunity.” I felt it, but it’s a feeling that you can’t know unless you come into contact with it yourself.”
At the same time, he remembered, “At some point, many citizens expect an opportunity to exchange such feelings,” and “ethnic homogeneity has not changed.”