Metamorphosis of coal mining town: Dong Gang Photo Festival

Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, Yeongwol was a city all surrounded by coal mines. Nearly half a century later, Gangwon-do (Gangwon Province) city has become one of popular tourist cities of the province, crowded with visitors looking to trace its history. One of the biggest contributors to the development of the city was the annual Dong Gang International Photo Festival that has brought renewed attention in recent years. 

Ahead of the twelfth annual photo festival set to open on July 19, the Dong Gang museum’s neighborhood takes on greater shape with streets decked out in colorful installation works, inspiring the curiosity of citizens. This year’s festival consists of ten sections including an exhibition by prize-winning artist Lee Jung-jin, as well as special exhibitions focused on UK photographers, young artists, and many more. 

This year’s award winner Lee Jung-jin displays his exhibits under the two themes “Thing/Wind.” What Lee wants to tell, through the seemingly quite simple and light topics, is impossibility and limitations of human beings in reaching a full understanding of what surrounds us. 

“I suppose I have a good knowledge of this material but I might not.” 
This phrase found in his exhibition helps audiences to understand his message. 

Three medalists in figure skating Ladies’ Singles at the 1924 Chamonix Winter Olympics: (from left) Herma Szabo of Austria (gold), Ethel Muckelt of the UK (bronze), and Beatrix Loughran of the U.S. (silver). 
One of the highlights is a special exhibition entitled “90 Years of the Winter Olympics in Photographs.” The exhibition in retrospect looks back on its 90-year history featuring images from the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France back in 1924 to Kim Yuna at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. 

There is an exhibition focused on photographers in Gangwon-do, the region where the photo festival takes place. Scenes with a peaceful atmosphere and the wonderful landscape of demilitarized zone (DMZ) are on display. 

Also, designed to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the armistice ending the Korean War, the section entitled “The War against the Memory” features scenes from the 1950s provided by photo journalists offering a rare and candid view of the time when the country was struggling with the aftermath of the Korean War. 

The museum has much more to offer, including open lectures, a photo workshop, and a Young Artists Exhibition as well as the modern UK photographer exhibition “Constructed View” directed by curator Yang Jeong-ah. 

Dong Gang Photo Festival kicks off on July 19 and lasts until September 22. Admission is KRW 3,000. More information is available at the Dong Gang Photo Museum. 

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