Postcard from South Korea

I have been back from (South) Korea for a few days now, but postcards always arrive with delays. The business that feeds me brought me to Seoul and I could not miss the opportunity to see Korean nature and experience a bit of its culture. It has been a very short trip – 5 days of wandering through the country without any plan. Although usually I like to take a hippie approach and instantly react to opportunities, not having a plan proved to be a problem this time when it came to photographing. Together with the weather – even when I got to a nice place, there were no clouds, no colors and only blue skies.

  Crowds of tourists enjoying Seoraksan Mountain

Crowds of tourists enjoying Seoraksan Mountain

Korea is beautiful and picturesque, especially in autumn, but also highly populous and urbanized. There are more than 50 million people living on the land area that is smaller than Czechia and Slovakia together; and I always thought that my former mother country is way too densely populated with 11 million inhabitants (only). By another measure, roughly the same population as in South Korea enjoys 5 times larger land in Spain. It might have been a perception problem of the man from a small place, but what looked like a village on the map was actually pretty sizeable town, which was devastating to all my pre-visualisations. On the other hand, I could at least be sure that there is going to be a decent Korean barbecue or fish restaurant anywhere I went to. As for the infrastructure, including highways and roads, it is just perfect.

Due to limited time, I only picked a few places to go to. I started at Seoraksan National Park in hope for mountain vistas, but the weather was too ideal for any adventures off the beaten tracks and thus for any meaningful photography. The tourists enjoyed it though and I did with them.

I then moved to the seaside on the east with no particular success either.

I decided to go deeper inland for the last two days. A few hotels I checked were sold out even in November (Koreans seem to really like traveling their country) so I virtually let booking.com choose a place for me. I ended up near Chungju, the largest dam in Korea. This is where I got lucky on my last morning before returning to Seoul.

  Caption: Once in a Long While, Camera: Linhof Techno, Lens: Schneider 47mm, Digital Back: Phase One IQ150, Exposure: 1/30s, Aperture: f/11, ISO: 100, Filters: Lee ND Graduated 0.45S

Caption: Once in a Long While, Camera: Linhof Techno, Lens: Schneider 47mm, Digital Back: Phase One IQ150, Exposure: 1/30s, Aperture: f/11, ISO: 100, Filters: Lee ND Graduated 0.45S

There was a gentle mist above the water, calming down the surroundings. Initially, I was shooting long exposures of this rock formation from a different angle. Soon after the clouds disappeared and the mist started to raise. The sun went up and back lit the rocks nicely. I tried few images against it, but the reflection was ugly enough due to the wind causing ripples. I packed my stuff and was on my way out when the wind suddenly ceased. I could do this picture that I perhaps like the most of the series. In the post-process, I only moved the temperature to a warmer rendition to add the mood and tonality.

South Korea is an amazing country for food and shopping tourism, but also full of cultural monuments, nice people and landscape beauties. I'm only sorry I did not have more time and a bit of more luck. Plenty of reasons to come back one day.