Both Sides Now

I purchased two bundles of postcards during my travels to the DMZ, more specifically to Panmunjom and the Joint Security Area–one from ROK (South Korea/SK) in 1995 and one from DPRK (North Korea/NK) in 1998. I selected five images from each set of ten that reveal the most significant or particular view from each side’s perspective, represented in English for public consumption. To note, my US passport enabled me to visit both sides of the Panmunjom while South Koreans had no access to this area with a Korean passport. During my visits, most of the foreigners at Panmunjom communicated in English. In order to illustrate the at-times subtle contrasts between these two sides, I sliced the postcards and reassembled them to produce new images containing alternating depictions of North Korea and South Korea. For instance, in the first postcard of this series [Figure 1], a DPRK image that depicts the interior of the room where the 1953 Korean armistice was signed–a room I visited, and where I walked between the green tables–is paired with an image taken from a distance showing the same building’s exterior from the South Korean side.

Figure 1: The interior room where the 1953 Korean Armistice was signed; a distant view of the building’s exterior

Figure 2: Korean activists and delegates speaking upon their arrest at Panmunjom; US and ROK soldiers standing at guard at the Bridge of No Return

Figure 3: Panmun House in North Korea; Panmungak in South Korea

Yong Soon Min

Yong Soon Min is professor emerita at the University of California, Irvine. She is a recipient of a Fulbright Senior Research Grant, a COLA Individual Artist Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, a Korea Foundation grant, an Anonymous Was a Woman award, a Guggenheim Foundation grant, and a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Award in New Genre. Min’s work has been exhibited at the fourth and tenth Havana Biennales, the seventh Gwangju Biennale and third Guangzhou Triennial, and at the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Seoul Museum of Art. Min is the co-curator of THERE: Sites of Korean Diaspora for the fourth Gwangju Biennale, transPOP: Korea Vietnam Remix, and Memories of Overdevelopment: Contemporary Art in the Philippine Diaspora. Currently, Min serves on the Artists Board of ICA (LA) and is a steering committee member of GYOPO.