김영갑 - Kim Young Gap


While I was on Jeju Island off the coast of South Korea this week one of my hosts took me to the DuMoak Gallery which houses the legacy of Korean photographer Kim Young Gap who died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 2005. His move to Jeju was initially a temporary one but he stayed for 20 years - until his death. The photographs on display are mostly large panoramic prints, landscapes depicting the scenery on or around the many Oreum hills that lie scattered across this volcanic island. My Korean is terrible (my two year old understands more than me) but my wife tells me that the gallery text states he was very philosopical in his approach to his work and his photography was an attampt to understand the beauty of the place. Apparantly he eventually decided that he didn't understand it at all, which is funnily enough the conclusion most philosophical inquiry seems to arrive at as far as I can tell.

In any case, I think he got it. The best of his photographs are truly sublime, of the type where you realise that it's quite possible he captured an essential moment (if there is such a thing). They gave me the same feeling of peace and awe and terrible fear that I get in those moments when the incredibly vast complex beauty of the world reveals itself to you and you feel both part of it yet utterly alone at the same time.



Despite the fact that the wild scenery of Jeju is slowly being built over and that tour buses and rental cars crowd it's roads, the island still has a rugged edge and even if many of the places depicted in these photographs have since undergone development, it's possible to find views that leave you inspired. But if not, there's always a little gallery in the south west where you can see what you couldn't find captured through the lens of Kim Young Gap's camera.


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