Gwangju Blog

The ends of the earth.

The ends of the earth


Sometimes living in Southern Jeolla province can feel like being at the end of the earth. Perched at the south-western tip of the Korean peninsula, areas like Jindo Island, Hwasun, or the Go-heung peninsula can feel a world away from what else is occurring in northern areas. Situated far south of Gwangju city even, it is not long before this city’s highways peter out to smaller and smaller tributaries until eventually, the pavement ends altogether. North of these areas lay pretty much the entire span of the country, while views to the south give few hints of consistent human habitation. In a country of more than fifty million inhabitants, such isolation can feel a priceless commodity.

As the summer vacation fades, yet before the onset of the October Chusok holiday, time both slows, speeds up, then steadily repeats as most of us enter our autumn routines. However, hours spent at these isolated tips where land and water slowly become intertwined often contain contradictory emotions of fear and tranquility. For, when surrounded by fewer humans, it is easy to become entranced by sounds of water slowly lapping away the veneers of this land’s solidity. If sitting beachside long enough, the tide inevitably encroaches, vanishing the spaces we used to feel secure within. As opposed to the largely designed experience of urban jungles to the north, these spaces somehow feel a safer place to loose oneself. For, as the land stops or slowly fades into the Yellow Sea, so likely do our own agendas, hopes, and societal manipulations. It is a place to find comfort within the essentially disquieting act of letting go of the familiar.

As a photographer, I find a sense of optimism within spaces like the one pictured above. Yes, over time, even these locations become visually predictable. However, eventual disgust with such predictability can serve to motivate us photographers to let go of strict visual interpretations, and work with this feeling of being at the threshold of some new beginning.


[The image above was taken with a Ricoh GR1 shooting Kodak T-max 400.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)