By Feature Editor Sion Khan with Reporter Son Da-som
Photo Artist Beom Jin-seok won the Grand Photo Award for his work, Hwanhui (Joy), at the 36th Republic of Korea Grand Photo Exhibition in Seoul on May 11, 2018 hosted by the Photo Artists Society of Korea (PASK) led by President Cho Kun-soo. It is the top award presented to the best photographer of the year by the PASK which is the most prestigious organization of photographers and photo artists of the Republic of Korea.
Held at the Korea Art & Culture Center in Seoul and attended by over 200 members and guests from all walks of life, including, besides President Cho of the PASK, Chairperson Kang Chun-ja of the Steering Committee of the PASK and Chairperson Park Ok-soo of the Screening Committee.
The Screening Committee included nine members, namely Kim Kyung-ja, Kim Sun-ja, Kim Jung-sik, Jim Ju-sik, Park Kyung-suh, Choi Boo-gil, Choi Young Keun and Han Byung-yul.
In selecting the top award-winning work, Chief Jury Cho Kun-soo said, “The work showed the image of an old man who has reached Nirvana having lived and experienced all sorts of ups and downs of life.”
He said, “The photo artist well depicted in a black and white work the image of a man who has lived the life of all sorts of trials and ordeals, and finally reached the state comparable to Nirvana in the Buddhist world.
Beom Jin-seok wins top award at 2018 Republic of Korea Grand Photo Exhibition
Question: You won a much-coveted Grand Award at the 36th Republic of Korea Grand Photo Exhibition in Seoul on May 11, 2018 hosted by the PASK. What is your impression of being awarded with such a great honor?
Answer: I would say that I had a great luck. I was lucky to visit and cover Viet Nam together with members of the Photo Artists Society of Korea. We visited a very old Buddhist temple named ‘Tapjang’ where I saw the very peaceful smiling face of an old man. It was the smile of a person who has heard the Buddhist sermons and acquired a mind of peace and delight.
I took the picture and completed my work presenting it with the image of the Buddha, the Gautama Siddhartha.
After completing the work, I had another look at the old man. He appeared aged with his body due to old age. However, his facial expression looked so happy and I thought that the old man was in a Land of Happiness.
In fact, I have been covering the Buddhist believers and the image of Buddha, but I failed because my work did not really depict the image of the Buddhist monk in my mind.
However, when I took the picture of the Buddhist monk as shown in my work, “Delight,” I told myself that this was the image that have been wanting to take.
Winner Beom Jin-suk of the Top Award, in fact, is a successful businessman in Korea who is engaged in the distribution of paint. He started as a businessman with Dongyang Sangsain 1982 and then operated a motor service company. In 2001, his company a corporate body and now Beom is the chief executive officer of Dongyang Tongsang Co., Ltd.
Q: How did you start as a photo artist?
A: I am an ordinary businessman and there was no relationship between photography and myself. However, in 1996 when I was taking the business management course at the post-graduate Business Management School of the Chonnam National University, one of my classmates suggested to me to join the Amateur Photographers Association, which I did and started taking pictures in rear earnest.
At the time, I was suffering from spondylitis ankylopoietica and it was not easy to carry the camera. However, my body favorably responded to my desire to become a photographer and I continued to take my camera and shoot scenes.
I wanted to show as many people as possible my photographic works, and I carried my camera equipment that weighed somewhere around 15 kilograms.
Carrying the camera, I covered many parts in Korea and around the world.
Then I opened the “Beom Jin-seok Photo Gallery” on the 10th floor of the KBS Media Building in Mapo-gu, Seoul in December last year.
Q: We understand that taking good pictures is no easy work, and, of course, there must have been hard times as well as happy moments.
A: Many people might think that I was just talented for photo-taking and I did not work hard. This is not true.
In order to take good pictures, sometimes you have to stand very low temperatures, as low down as 20 degrees minus, and sometimes you have to give up a few nights’ sleep to take a good picture. You really need rare patience to take good pictures. In order to catch the right moment to shoot a right scene, you really need patience and efforts. I would say, “Photograph is “Aesthetics of Waiting.”
Q: Does a good camera count to take good pictures?
A: No, not really. Good pictures come from a lot of walking. So foot counts rather than the camera. Landscape photographs need the blessing of the Heaven. You have to travel with a great extent of patience. Of course, there are occasions when you should have a good luck. But it is hard work that counts.
Q: What made you to become a photographer?
A: In fact, I operated a taxi service business in 1977. At the time, I was presented with camera as a gift from one of my elder brothers. Cameras were not that easy to come by at the time and I liked taking pictures with the camera given me.
In 1996, I joined the Chonnam National University at the post-graduate business managers course. There I continued to take strong interest in picture-taking.
I liked to take portrait pictures of the people, and I covered many different people with my camera. And, of course, I gave them finished photographs as a gift. It was a time when, unlike now, there were no memory chips where you download the images. Cameras were hard to come by and so were the films. Developing them was even scarcer.
Perhaps in recognition of my zeal in picture-taking, one day I got an offer from the General Affairs Manager of a photography club to start photographic work. This is the occasion when I joined the photograph club and started learning photography in real earnest.
Q: What is your view of photography?
A: In photography, I think the lights are the coloring materials. Painting looks like photography. In art, you can express any way you want. But in photography you record the history. Art is what the artists can do any way they want. But in photography, light is the coloring material. Unless you are blessed with the Heaven, you can never produce the lights the way you want to do.
Q: What are your future plans as a photo artist?
A: I would like to travel many countries of the world to my heart’s content taking pictures. I want to take in-depth pictures to make real works.
In a medium-long range plan, I would like to cover scenes in North Korea together with internationally known photographers. If I can stay in North Korea for a set period of time, I would like to cover the sceneries and the people of North Korea together with the Baekdu Mountains and Diamond Mountains in North Korea to shoot all four seasons of the scenes.
I would like to introduce to the world widely the Soul of Arirang of the Korean people and the beautiful Diamond Mountains of North Korea to the entire world.