Photography and Korea is the first history of Korean photography for a Western readership. Going beyond nationalist historiography, my book avoids depicting Korea as a monolithic entity. Instead, it acknowledges that Korea, as well as Asia in a broader context, has always been interconnected within the intricate web of global socio-political forces.
In pursuit of this perspective, the book unveils various facets of Korea, encompassing the divided North and South, Korea as perceived through the lens of foreign observers, and the dispersion of Korean communities across the world.
The book introduces diverse foreign nationals—European, American, and Japanese—who were involved in visualizing Korea through photography, not merely to suggest that they influenced photographic practices in Korea, but, more importantly, to foreground the interconnectedness among photographic activities around the world. In turn, the history of Japanese photography during the 1920s and ’30s cannot be understood solely through exploring photographic practices on the island; its ambit can be fathomed best by also considering the dynamics of photography in its colonies. Likewise, European and American photographers’ enterprises on the Korean peninsula constitute a crucial part of the history of photography of the region, extending beyond the margins to which they have previously been relegated.
Jeehey Kim is an assistant professor in the art history program at the School of Art, University of Arizona. She earned a PhD in Art History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She has been writing on vernacular photographic practices and on documentary films and visual culture in relation to the Cold War and gender politics in East Asia. At the University of Arizona, she launched a series of symposia on Asian photography with the Center for Creative Photography in the Spring of 2022. She is currently working on her second book project on funerary use of portrait photography in East Asia.