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2005/07/02   Critical Essay=Final Project


Critical Essay=Final Project
Archives | 2005/07/02 20:23
Major Project
Critical Essay

On my Project
‘Korean Society in London’


Course leader : Colin Jacobson

Student Name : HoonKoo,Lee

Student number : w04107194

In spite of a rather long history between UK and Korea, many British people do not know about Korean society. This project was started on that basis. In June 2002, many Londoners were amazed to see the World Cup game on television. They were nearly astounded by Korean supporters’ enthusiasm at Trafalgar square and New Malden. Until then, Londoners barely knew the presence of Koreans in London. At that time, the Korean football team defeated many strong countries such as Italy, Portugal, etc. Many Londoners may be surprised by two things: one is the existence of Korean society, the other is their solidarity.

Last year, The Times, an influential UK newspaper, published an article about the UK Korean community. It said that the reason Korean people gather together in New Malden, an area located in Kingston area, south west of London, was to get dog meat. Korean people living in the UK and in Korea got angry after hearing this, and a lot of criticism was directed towards its coloumnist and the editor who allowed its publication without checking the validity. The Korean ambassador to the UK asked the editor of The Times for an apology, and the matter ended after the editor accepted. It was clear that this article had a negative affect on people who did not know much about Korean culture.
The root of this problem was that Korean society is not well understood by British people, and that even though it has grown rapidly and in number, it has failed in localisation. In order to prevent serious racial conflicts in the future, and to pursue coexistence with local people as one of various ethnicities, I felt it is necessary to explain the ethnic and cultural activities of Korean people.
However nowadays, many ways can be found to harmonize foreigners with the UK rather easily. In May 9th, 2005, Londoners witnessed a sea of people watching Korean movies at Leicester Square, the centre of film and musicals in the city. This event was organized to publicize Korean culture because many British people don’t don’t much about it.”
The Korean population in London is estimated to be as many as 37,000, most living around New Malden and Kingston. Temporary residents like students make up the majority. Through this project, I want to introduce Korean’s life in London and their endeavor to publicize Korean culture. Their diverse efforts will hopefully be accepted, as neighbors want to harmonize with any and all Londoners.
Accordingly this project is based on their diverse efforts, and was made to be an exhibition or publication. This essay was made usiung In-Design and Adobe Illustration program to be more visual appealing. There are 11 pages total, including the cover. The essay took 8 months to complete, from December, 2004 to July of this year.





I worked following basic priciples of magazine production, however target audience and target distribution were different from that of a magazine. It was aimed for a public venue like a gallery exhibition.
I set the stages as follows;

1.Research stage
2.Contact and making appointments
3.Interview and shooting
4.Editing stage
5.Design and Production stage

1.Research stage - December,2004
I researched the history between the Uk and Korea, and searched for news on the Internet. Unfortunately there was not as much data as expected.





2.Contact and making appointments - From January, 2005
I had met so many kinds of people, from the Korean resident’s association to Korean media correspondants, a Buddhist monk, restaurant owners, masters of Taekwon-Do, students etc., and set up meetings to interview them.

3.Interview and Documentation - from February, 2005
I had a tight schedule to adhere to and shot many events.

4.Editing stage - From early June, 2005
I sorted and edited raw data.

5.Design and Production stage - July, 2005
I completed a major project for gallery exhibition.


At first I intened this essay for magazine publication, but following several tutorials I changed directions to gallery exhibition for publicity. Firstly, the shooting lists are as follows.

1.Family - a Korean businessman with a British wife
2.Korean Rock Festival – contacted British Rock group(April)
3.Religion – a Buddist temple in London
4.Karaoke (Noraebang)
5.Korean Tranditional Restaurant – serving food in traditional costumes
6.Football game between Korean youngersters and British people every weekend in Hyde Park
7.SOAS Korean Language Class - Korean teacher and UK students
8. Supermarket - Korean people chracter and street
9.Religion – Zeungsankyo, a meditation training center
10.Volunteers who help the disabled
11.Young students who study with British students
12.Korean movie theater during the Korean culture festival(May)
13.Street performance Event showing Korean Marrage costume
14.Korean Local newspaper company in London.

Roughly classified, they can be devided into Education, Sports, Culture, Religion, and Life. I was not able to document ‘Volunteer and ‘Noraebang’.
For simplicity sake, the projet was constructed of short texts and many photos and captions. I will explain content and intention page by page.

The first page included the most important images.
I selected a group photo of an amateur football team at Regent Park.
I wanted to show the young players of both countries.
They represent solidarity and the future of both countries.
In reality, they knew each other well and have been meeting every weekend and playing all day.

The second page is about the SOAS Korean language class.
Since 2002 when SOAS opened the Korean language department, the number of applicants has increased. Most of them are Japanese and British. I selected the photo of a Japanese student because of her shy expression.

The third page is a kind of information page.
I inserted text, a diagram, and map, all concerning Korean society.
On the upper part, football photos were posted. One of them is an archive photograph which was taken in Korea. Before coming UK, I was invited to a ceremony. In June 2004, the British marines visited Korea to celebrate Korea-British Treaty day. The marines and Koreans in traditional clothes are staging the Deck-Football at the Essex ship as their ancestors did more than 100 years ago.

The fourth page is about Taekwon-Do. I selected two photos. One is kicking practice, the other is a demonstration of breaking wooden panels; in Tae Kwon Do kicking always accompanied by a brave shout. Taekwondo, the distinctive Korean martial art, is now known to most foreigners, and is played in the Olympics.




The fifth page is about a Korean rock group. They visited London on April 9th Yoon Do Hyun Band(YDH), one of the best Korean rock groups, performed at the Koko club, Camden, and joined a British band. YDH Band received thunderous applause from the British audience.

The sixth page is about film. This page is very meaningful. Korea’s film industry, which has been floushing latley. This event, the Korean Film Festival, was put on by an NGO in London. The main photo is of two guides’s greeting while wearing in traditional Korean costumes. The festival was a smashing success as another picture shows an Anacondalike line of people waiting to watch Korean movies.

Stories of New Malden or Kinston start on the seventh page.
At first, I wanted to show shots of New Malden street.
I waited at the front of Korean food supermarket until Korean women walked past and then shot this. The other photo below the page is about a travel agency. New Malden in South London is increasingly dominated by Koreans - 35% of stores in High Street of New Malden is owned by Koreans. However, the future of the Korean community depends on how well Koreans can blend with the local community.

The eighth page is about religion, in this case Buddism.
Younwhasa in Kingston is the only Korean Buddhist temple in the UK. I had difficulty contacting and getting permission from the monk. I spent so much time just getting access. In my opinion, the aspect of religion is very important to show Korea’s image.

The ninth page is learning and communication media.
The main photo is about Korean and British kids who are helping each other to solve difficult questions at an extra curricular activity class. The Korean parents are renowned in the world as the strong believers in the importance of education. It is not exceptional among the Korean parents in Britain. The other small photo is about a local newspaper company. There are around 10 Korean newspapers in London. The UK Life is one of them.



The last page is about family and friendship.
Through this page I wanted to show and conclude the relationship between UK and Korea. I had tried to find a couple who married internationally. Finally I was introduced this happy family. Kim, Junhee (39),Korean businessman is married to Sharon. They have two children, Viena (Jungeun, 10) and Aron (Sungwon,7). Despite their different nationalities, they feel happier than other couples. Sharon, after experiencing Korean culture, chose the Korean approach to education. Coming together to play with blocks is one way of it. The small photo, left side, is about Korean students who mingle with other international students through various events and activities. Students from Korea, Hong Kong, Netherlands and Japan are at the same house party in Kingston. They are all studying in the university. The number of Korean students in the UK universities is increasing every year.




This project is the first photo story about Korean society in London as far as I know. Through this project, I wanted to contribute to the understaning of Korea.
However, this work has some defiencies. If this project intends to be exhibited at the gallery, it should contain some infomatin about both countries’ relationship, and infographics of the present Korea should be inserted.
I regretted very much that I could not document the Korean Residents’ Annual festival. I could not join the October festival due to this projects’ early September deadline.
Although I had made an effort to complete this project over 8 months, I did not concentrate on negative points of Korean society, abandoning the juvenile crimes and maladjustment to the UK education system.


< Conclusion>

After completing this project, I considered the localisation of Korean society and coexistence with the indigenous UK culture. Korean communities in Britain, have created a range of new social relationships that did not exist before between their culture and the indigenous. The article in The Times was one of the reports which showed these relationships, and the success of the Korean Festival in 2005 also shows the process of building new relationships. Due to the limit of the time and deficiency of previous academic research, this project has some defects.
Thanks to the deep consideration of my tutor, Mr.Colin, I was able to complete the ‘Korean Society’ project. I’m scheduled to go back to Korea at the end of July following the contract with my company. I had confronted many kinds of difficulties, but I was finally able to overcome these limitations.
In spite of many deficiencies, I appreciate this work as meaningful.
As far as I know, this is the first photo project about UK Korean society.
As for me, the most important thing is that I experienced UK life and studied under British style education. Through this project, we can imagine the future of Korean society in UK.









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