On my very first night in Korea, I remember being struck by the number of red neon crosses that dotted the horizon. My naive younger self had always equated Asia with temples. But after day two, I learned from my coworker just how Christian S. Korea was.
Fast-forward 12 years. I witnessed first-hand just how extreme some of the Christian factions really are this past June, when Dave and I were sent by Xtra magazine to cover the 16th annual Korean Queer Culture Festival. In recent years, the parade and festival had been plagued by protesters and there had been a lack of support from the local authorities. And while this year a record number of protesters turned out, the cops actually managed to keep the groups separate. In the end, love won.
You can read more about the day here, and more about the obstacles leading up to it here and here.
I had just upgraded my camera and was getting my head around all the new button placements and functions. I was also using a (surprisingly decent) kit-lens, and still waiting on a lens upgrade. (Why can't I win the lottery...just once?) I would have liked to have gone with a smaller depth of field, alas my aperture was as wide as it could go. We were also blessed with an unusually clear and sunny day in central Seoul. Not so fabulous for shooting mid-day. All that aside, shooting all the smiling faces was an absolute highlight of the day.
Performers, and festival-goers enjoying some sun in the cordoned-off area in front of City Hall.
Performers get ready to lead the parade.
My beautiful friend Lauren. Protester had tried to use the current MERS outbreak as grounds to cancel the festival. Ha.
I've separated the images of protesters and festival-goers so you can clearly see the huge difference in demeanor. See if you can tell which side promotes love, and which promotes hate...
Thank you to the organizers and volunteers, and the Seoul Metropolitan Police for keeping us safe.
A teacher and photographer previously based in S. Korea, being thrown into the world of photojournalism.