Once known as the “Hermit Kingdom”, Korea was first prised open by Japan in 1876; it opened to the West in 1883, and even today it remains a little-known country. Yet its distinct culture and history could not be more colourful or fascinating. Famous as one of the Asian Dragon economies, Korea has risen to become the eleventh largest economy in the world.
This book provides the first-ever comprehensive history of photography in Korea and identifies many previously unattributed images. Photographs from key private collections and museum archives in Europe, America and Russia are collected in this volume, forming a unique anthology and giving insight into the cultural heritage of Korea.
It includes the first photographs ever taken on Korean soil, by the famous war photographer Felice Beato. He accompanied the American squadron of five ships which landed in 1871 to attempt to open Korea to trade. His photographs show the fighting which ensured and the Korean people the Americans encountered. Other early photographs include royal portraits taken in the 1890s. Queen Min, the last queen of Korea, was assassinated by the Japanese in 1895 and the striking image presented here is the only known photograph of her.
With a wide range of pictures by the photographic pioneers who first travelled to the country, including stereoscopes, glass slides and albumen prints – all reproduced in duotone – plus hand-tinted photographs reproduced in colour, readers will for the first time be able to see the people, the landscape, the town-life and the crafts and costumes of traditional Korea.
Terry Bennett is a specialised in early photography of the Far East, with an expert knowledge of the photographic pioneers who first explored the world in the late nineteenth century. He is the author of Early Japanese Images, co-author of Japan: Caught in Time, and has lectured and published many articles on related topics.
Martin Uden is currently serving as British Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.
Source: back cover