The Perimeter Project is a photographic exploration of two communities, Waegwan and Pohang, in North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. Sitting along the Nakdong River, these cities were deeply impacted by key battles in 1950 during the first few months of the Korean War. More recently, the cities were involved in major restoration works as part of the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project under the presidency of Lee Myung Bak. The Restoration Project and the joint U.S. and South Korean Army Bases still located in these cities highlight the geographical and continued militarily strategic importance not only of this river system but the communities that call it home.
I lived in South Korea between 2005 and 2012. I lived through three presidencies during my time there. From children to seniors, strangers, friends, colleagues, and students, it was never difficult to elicit an opinion regarding the policies of their federal government and never more so than during the term of the hugely unpopular presidency of Lee Myung Bak. It was something else though to evoke a response about North Korea, it's continued threat of war and possible reunification of the country. When I had my bags packed and a ticket for the ferry to Fukuoka, Japan the day the North shelled Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, my Korean friends shrugged their shoulders and went about their day. I was still expected to show up for work. They felt the tension as much as anyone, but they weren't going to show it. They still hung on to a sense that life would go on as normal. And that is to be expected after two generations have lived with the pattern of provocation and placation from the North and the West. But Koreans and the rest of the world are starting to awaken to a new reality that the old patterns might soon be replaced with something far more sinister. The recent political turmoil in South Korea and the alarming increase in armed provocations from the North lend this project a sense of urgency.
Preliminary photos of the project were completed in 2012.