Han River Bridge

CompanyKONG Media
PhotographerJung Hanjo
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

Korea has been ranked at the top for suicide rates among OECD countries. The place where suicide is committed a lot is Han River that flows across Seoul, capital city, especially on the bridges that are more than 30. How were the bridges seen by those who committed suicide? To them, probably, the river was rough and the bridge was the road to hell or tombstone. Nevertheless, Han River and the bridges would have been seen as beautiful, still. Is there anybody who saw such an ironical and harsh aspect of world? In fact, those who are alive cannot know the answer. Only the river that has been flowing for tens of thousands of years might know the answer.

Story

Han River is a representative river in Korea and runs through Seoul, capital city. As there are not only beautiful parks but also bike path, open-air stage, and recreational facilities around the river, the river draws many Seoulites. There are over thirty bridges in the Han River. Every night, color lighting on each bridge covers the city beautifully, which makes the Han River very popular to not only citizens of Seoul but also foreigners. So it draws many visitors. On the other hand, Han River sometimes looks really depressed. Korea ranks at the top for suicide rates among OECD countries. Ironically, the place where suicide is committed a lot is on the Han River Bridge. So many slogans that are against suicide are attached all over the bridges and CCTVs and emergency phones are installed. Moreover, rescue workers are always on standby. I like Han River, because it is so beautiful. I go out there for a walk often or have my picture taken. When I am there, I sometimes ask myself these questions. “How were the bridges seen by those who committed suicide?” “What did they see on the last day of their life?” In such endless desperation without hope, in such empty feeling beyond anger towards and disappointment at the world, and in deep sorrow and depression, they ended their own life. To them, probably, the river was scary and the light of the world had faded, and the bridge was their last journey or tombstone. Nevertheless, the Han River and the bridges would have seen as beautiful, still. Who on earth saw such a cruel and harsh world? I had my picture taken, trying to understand their desperation. I took many photos crossing the Han River bridges. I used photographic techniques to create a gloomy atmosphere in the photos and at the same time tried not to miss the beauty. But having all photos taken, I was absorbed in thought in front of many photos that were spread in front of me. Can I draw what they saw? Those who are alive as well as I cannot draw it clearly. We just feel the futility of life. Rather, they seem to teach us empty life deeply. I often go out to Han River these days, too. Whenever I see the bridges, I still ask myself the same questions. “How were the bridges seen by those who committed suicide?” “What did they see on the last day of their life?” But now I don’t want to find the answer now. I just look at the bridges with absence of mind, looking at the light that dyes the whole world as well as the river and the sky that are brutally discolored every moment. If there is an answer, the answer might be known by the river only that has been flowing for tens of thousands of years.

About Photographer

He is a Korean photographer and photo critic. He majored in fine art photography in Hongik University, Korea and got a doctor’s degree in Art Plastic. He is the first doctor in photography in Korea and now teaching students in universities while working as photographer and photo critic. Furthermore, he has published many books and photo albums, for example <Photo – Theory and Practice>, <A Guide to Photo Viewing>, and <Seoul by Night>.