Image and text courtesy of Tim Franco: ‘Kim Pil-joo from his series ‘Un-Person: North Korean Defectors’.
“In George Orwell’s 1984 an ‘unperson’ is someone who has been vaporized, whose record has been erased. The people I chose to portray made the decision to disappear from their own Orwellian world – North Korea. Sometimes for ideological reasons and often by despair, they left behind a life that would disappear for ever. The road to South Korea is dangerous and can take years. Some of them won’t make it. The travels of the ones that do are filled with the fear of being arrested and sent back to labor camps. Having arrived in South Korea they often struggle to find a new identity, lost between their North Korean past and South Korean future. To reflect this incredible transition I chose to portray these defectors on an analog material that is not supposed to exist. Just like their situation, the negative of a Polaroid is not supposed be usable. It is only obtained through a series of chemical purifications of the back paper that reveal the original polaroid image. The result is often uncertain, dirty and imperfect. This series of portraits is the first chapter of a project reflecting on North Korea, in particular on the notion of borders and identity”.
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