▲ The lines of Jeju oreum, such as here at Yongnuni Oreum, are the inspiration behind Ko Nam Soo's work. Photo by Ko Nam Soo
To see the beauty of Jeju’s lines, one must visit an oreum.
These volcanic cones number 368 around Jeju and each of them has a unique outline. Only when you spend time to appreciate them, ideally from one peak to another, can you say you have seen the real Jeju.
Photographer Ko Nam Soo spent 10 years capturing their elegant lines. For him, their outline is their true beauty, much like artists who are devoted to the human form and its contours.
For Ko, the line was everything. His images have no color and even show little of the changes in the seasons. While other photographers choose to frame the oreum with the sky from a distance, Ko captured them up close, right in front of his eyes.
The image here is of Yongnuni Oreum, which rises to 247.8 meters and is surrounded by five other oreum, both big and small. Its remarkable curves make it one of the most popular in all of Jeju and it is representative of the east of the island.
Its soft curves are home to pasturelands for horses and cows, and its fine lines produce stunning scenes in harmony with curved local graves to give a unique Jeju backdrop.
The oreum mean so much to Jeju people. They are the mountain at the back of the house to the workplace for their livestock. They are even the site of their tombs. This is why we have the phrase: “Jeju people are born at an oreum, and they return to an oreum.”
Despite climbing Yongnuni Oreum over 100 times, Ko said he often couldn’t click the shutter, only taking a shot if he was seized by the moment. “If I can’t feel it, I can’t take it,” he said.
This gets to the heart of his relationship with Jeju nature, as his images are instances of his immersion and oneness with it. As one can feel the person through the photograph, said Ko, so we can know Jeju through his art.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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