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April 10, 2022

Stunning Black and White Photos of a New Seoul From 1956 to 1963 by Han Youngsoo

During his lifetime, Han Youngsoo (1933–1999) was little known outside of Korea. Born to a well-to-do family in Gaesung, Korea, Youngsoo took drawing and painting lessons as a young man and pursued photography as a hobby. After taking part in bitter frontline fighting as a young South Korean soldier during the Korean War (1950–53), he returned to Seoul at the war’s end and found a devastated, impoverished city. Choosing photography as a profession, Youngsoo witnessed a period of profound transformation in Seoul that saw the rapid creation of a modern city and urban society.

Youngsoo’s photographs tell this story by offering a fascinating window onto the everyday lives of the city’s ordinary men, women, and children. Although he did not overlook the surviving customs and architecture of old Seoul, Youngsoo was more interested in exploring the modern urban culture that was rapidly taking shape. He also paid special attention to the changing status of Korean women, who were then finding new roles as entrepreneurs or consumers, as suggested in his views of narrow streets lined with well-stocked fashion boutiques.

“The war had taken away many things,” wrote Youngsoo. “Not only had it mercilessly trampled down on our beloved families and neighbors, but also their happiness, hope, and furthermore humanity itself. As if that wasn’t enough, by the end it had utterly destroyed everything on the face of the earth leaving behind ruins, despair, famine and sorrow.”

Take a look at the city as it rebuilt itself after the war through these 33 stunning black and white photographs taken by Youngsoo:

Seoul

Seoul

Seoul

Seoul

Seoul

Seoul

Seoul

Bando Hotel, Euljiro 1-ga, Seoul

Malli-dong, Seoul

Jangchungdan Park, Seoul

Huam-dong, Seoul

Hongje-dong, Seoul

Seoul

Seoul

Seoul

Seoul

Near Seoul

Namdaemun, Seoul

Hangangdaegyo Bridge, Seoul

Sogong-dong, Seoul

Sogong-dong, Seoul

Sogong-dong, Seoul

Sogong-dong, Seoul

Sogong-dong, Seoul

Hangang River, Seoul

Hangang River, Seoul

Hangang River, Seoul

Hangang River, Seoul

Hangang River, Seoul

Hangang River, Seoul

Hangang River, Seoul

Meongdong, Seoul

Meongdong, Seoul




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