PetaPixel

Korea–Korea: Compelling Photos Compare the Public Spaces of North & South Korea

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

The difference between the two Koreas is well-known. We understand that one country is almost entirely closed off from the rest of the world, while the other is modern and plugged in. We’ve even seen images from space that show how literally dark North Korea is.

And yet, it takes a compelling photo series/book like German architecture photographer Dieter Leistner’s Korea–Korea to truly drive home the differences between these two pieces of the same peninsula.

The premise behind Korea–Korea is simple: place photos of similar public spaces from Seoul, South Korea and Pyongyang, North Korea side-by-side. Photographs of street scenes, bus stops, markets, buildings and public squares are placed one right next to the other and it is almost always immediately obvious which image was taken in which country.

koreakorea

The photographs from Pyongyang were taken in 2006 while the images from Seoul were taken in 2012, but the differences go beyond what 6 years of progress will do to a country. Plus, the images and book go further than simply identifying differences.

As a German photographer, Leistner is better qualified than most to understand what it is to live in a divided country. The images speak of a disconnect, of families torn apart and friends separated.

If the photograph from space highlights the differences between these two lands on a global scale, Leistner’s images tell us a more intimate, social tale:

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

By Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014

To learn more about this project and the photographer behind it, or if you’d like to pick up the book for yourself for $30, head over to publisher Gestalten’s website by clicking here.

(via Feature Shoot)


Image credits: Photographs by Dieter Leistner from Korea–Korea, Copyright Gestalten 2014


 
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  • shaun

    nice idea but the execution is neither spectacular nor particularly striking.

  • Andy Austin

    I was hoping for something more awesome. Like the photo of the US/Mexico border.

    I think the idea is nice, the one of the train was decently striking. I just wish the rest were striking.

  • http://www.mbrown.ca Mark Brown

    Neat book. Knowing what we know it’s clear that almost everyone would prefer to live in South Korea, but based solely on the photos, I think I’d rather be in North Korea. I may just be strange, though.

  • OtterMatt

    Unfortunately, the border between the Koreas is a military zone, and probably not available for photos.
    And normally, I’m sure a lot of people would be crying “Post-processing bias!” about a comparison shot, but these actually seem very honest. The monument shots really got me, with the North spending massive money on a military monument and the South having what appears to be a Buddhist or Shintoist statue. That’s a big contrast right there.

  • Jason Yuen

    This might not be a very popular opinion, but I appreciate how North Korea doesn’t have advertising all up in your face every around every corner and in every moment of the day. Not at all saying advertising is a bad thing, as without it any developed nation wouldn’t be what it is, but there’s a certain calmness and peacefulness of being free from media. Just look at that train/subway.

  • Rob Elliott

    I always find that interesting because you then look at the Canadian Border.

    The Road is in Canada the field in the US.

  • Rob Elliott

    Otter the two South Korean statues are King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun-Sin

    King Sejong was a 15th king that among his many changes and effects on Korean life, lead (launched) military campaigns in the North (part of China) and pushed for developements in Canons and rockets

    Admiral Yi Sun-Sin had success against the Japanese in the 16th Century.

    both are Military and Historical not peaceful or religious statues.

    (just for accuracy)

  • Peter “Pots”

    Come on people, where are all of you responded at? Please say it “sucks.” South Korea is vibrant and alive!

  • Eugene Chok

    yet it takes me an hour and a half at the border to go from Vancouver to Seattle !

  • Rob Elliott

    just get out and walk then ;) (seriously really there is nothing stopping people from having a car pick them up the picture below is a trail into the US from a Canadian neighbourhood. (Which is why I know the Passport thing for Canadians into the US was thought up by someone on the east coast because here there are no land crossings without a river in the way until you hit the Manitoba border.)

    The reason is of course that people obey the law very well so there is no need for a fence. or barrier.

    There is about 2000mi of border where there is literally an american farm and a Canadian farm and a patch of grass to let each other know there their property is.

    The Canadian US border from Maine to Washington State is 4000mi

    The US Mexico State is 1500mi.

  • Conner Werty

    i was hoping for less bias.

  • maverickmage

    King Sejong is more known for bringing about the written language of Korea than for his military actions. He is most commonly associated with being an intellectual leader that pushed for science and technology, rather than as a military expansionist.

    Admiral Yi Sun-Sin, while known for his success against the Japanese, it wasn’t an offensive one. He’s famous for his defensive actions against the Japanese invasion and is thought to be one of the greatest admirals in world history.

    It is a little annoying how you seem to neglect some key facts.

    (just for accuracy)

  • Rob Elliott

    Both did a great many things, I was quickly clarifying who they were and showing they weren’t religious figures. Military actions helps eliminate talk back, when it comes to western people thinking of Buddhist statues.

    Any one who knows anything about Korean history knows that any mention of the Japanese is going to be defensive in nature. I could have also mentioned, suggesting either may be Shinto in nature is bordering on offensive.

    King Sejong didn’t bring about the written Language of Korea. One was introduced during his rule that allowed the masses to easily become literate without having to learn adapted Chinese characters. It was created by others.

    But of course now between the three comments things have gotten very long… and it still isn’t fully “accurate”

    I wasn’t trying to write a wiki article or educate beyond pointing out neither figured was Buddhist nor Shinto or Religious in general.

    I could have also mentioned that Sejong actually helped ingrain Confucian elements into Korean Government and Society. Which you don’t mention.

    I picked the achievement that most easily demonstrated that he was not a religious figured for the purpose of brevity while acknowledging that it was not his only achievement.

    It is why I said they were Military and Historical.

  • Harry Cunningham

    This was exactly my thought. They just look like someone’s holiday snaps.

  • OtterMatt

    The key phrase in my sentence was “appears to be”. I never claimed to be an expert on Eastern history, but let’s face it; if it was in most European countries, anybody associated with the military would be shown on a horse at least.

  • Rob Elliott

    No worries, that is why I mentioned it. Honestly I’d likely suspect the one of the King was Buddhists if I didn’t look it up. (It seemed too new)

    My comments to you were purely for clarification, I meant nothing derogatory. It’s the whole reason I tried to keep it brief.