K Food

Photographing the traditional markets of South Korea has become one of my long-term personal projects. The narrow streets, the smoke and shadow and light, the faces and hands of the shop owners…all of these elements make the markets a kind of photographic treasure trove, and a challenge that keeps me coming back for more.

201500327306-

Gwangjang Market, Seoul. © Ben Weller /www.wellerpix.com/ All rights reserved

Last year, Octopus Publishing in the UK contacted me about a book project. The authors, Da-hae and Gareth West, run Busan BBQ, a food truck at London’s Street Feast. They had seen my market work, and they were interested in having me shoot photographs for their cookbook of Korean street food and homestyle cooking. The assignment was to spend a day in Seoul with Da-hae and Gareth as they ate and shopped their way through the city’s traditional markets and famous street food areas. I jumped at the opportunity.

I had a fantastic time seeing the Korean food scene through these chefs’ eyes, and of course, eating some great food. Now, a year later, I’ve received my advance copy of the book and I am ready to start cooking. From sauces and soups to bulgogi burgers and pajeon, this book has a ton of great recipes. If you love Korean food like I do, it’s a great way to learn to cook your favorite dishes like beokumbap (fried rice) and doenjang jjigae (soybean stew). But Da-hae and Gareth are super creative, too, so don’t expect just your standard fare. There’s Mango Kimchi and Korean Chilli Crab, Ramyun Chicken Buns and Gochujang Meatloaf. There’s also a drinking section, including a Kimchi Bloody Mary and something they call a “Grown-up Yakult”, featuring the ubiquitous sweet yogurt and soju (plus some other ingredients–but you’ll have to buy the book to find out). K Food comes out May 5, and you can pre-order your copy at Amazon.

View the gallery below for more pictures from my day with Da-hae and Gareth:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ben Weller is a photographer in Nagoya, Japan. All images by Ben Weller /www.wellerpix.com © 2016

After Sewol tragedy, mourning turns to anger

Almost three weeks after the sinking of the Sewol ferry, a deep sense of sadness persists across the country. Close to 300 people died, most of them students from Danwon High School, and the loss of so many young lives is stirring popular anger against the Park administration as it struggles to respond.

south korea, ansan, danwon, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul

Signs and flowers were left at the gate to Danwon High School in Ansan, South Korea.

Danwon, sewol

Danwon High School.

I was in Ansan just days after the accident, and I photographed a vigil held there as people held out hope for survivors. After the initial rescue, no survivors were found, and dive teams continue to pull bodies from the sunken ship. Close to 300 people died, most of them teenagers from Ansan.

south korea, ansan, danwon, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul

People hold candles at a vigil in Ansan, South Korea.

south korea, ansan, danwon, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul

People hold candles at a vigil in Ansan, South Korea.

The Sewol tragedy is truly that. In the minutes after the ship began to list, the captain and crew refused to order an evacuation, and instead instructed passengers to remain where they were. Most of the students who died were on lower decks, and were trapped as the water began to pour in. The captain and most of the crew, meanwhile, were some of the first to be evacuated as rescue boats arrived.

Almost immediately, even before divers started pulling bodies from the ship, allegations of negligence, ineptitude, and insincerity on the part of the government began to arise. Now, a popular tide of anger is growing against president Park Geun-hye and her administration as people wonder if pro-business policies led to lax oversight, which in turn led to the disaster.

There were several demonstrations yesterday in Seoul, and in the evening around 5,000 people converged at Cheongye Plaza near the Blue House for a candle light vigil and protest.

south korea, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul, cheongye, park geun-hye, demonstration, protest

Nuns pray during a demonstration at Cheongye Plaza in Seoul, South Korea.

south korea, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul, cheongye, park geun-hye, demonstration, protest

Students post protest signs at Cheongye Plaza in Seoul, South Korea.

park geun-hye, korea photographer, sewol

People hold anti-government signs at a demonstration in Seoul, South Korea.

south korea, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul, cheongye, park geun-hye, demonstration, protest

People react as they watch video footage of the Sewol ferry sinking recovered from victims’ phones, at Cheongye Plaza, Seoul, South Korea.

south korea, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul, cheongye, park geun-hye, demonstration, protest

A mother and daughter hold candles at a demonstration and vigil in Seoul, South Korea.

south korea, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul, cheongye, park geun-hye, demonstration, protest

A woman cries during a demonstration and vigil in Seoul, South Korea.

south korea, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul, cheongye, park geun-hye, demonstration, protest

People hold candles during a vigil at Cheongye Plaza.

south korea, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul, cheongye, park geun-hye, demonstration, protest

A high school student weeps while holding a banner at a demonstration in Seoul.

south korea, sewol, ferry, disaster, seoul, cheongye, park geun-hye, demonstration, protest

A protestor holds a sign protesting the Park administration in Seoul.

A protestor holds a sign protesting the Park administration in Seoul.

A protestor speaks during a demonstration in Seoul.

park geun-hye, seoul, sewol, demonstration, ferry sinking

A woman holds a sign protesting president Park Geun-hye at a demonstration in Seoul.

seoul, sewol, park geun-hye

People hold signs calling on president Park Geun-hye to take responsibility for the Sewol disaster at a demonstration in Seoul.

sewol, demonstration, seoul, park geun-hye, ben weller, korea photographer

Students hold signs reading “Save the Children” at a demonstration in Seoul.

sewol, sinking, protest, busan photographer, korea photographer

People hold flowers and signs reading, “Stay where you are,” in reference to orders given by the ship’s crew during the sinking of the Sewol.

All photographs in this post by Ben Weller, all rights reserved. To license images from this post please fill out the contact form.