Time Travel Through South Korea

Korean artist Sungseok Ahn was shocked when he paid a visit to Seoul, Korea. Many of the historical landmarks he had studied about had transformed into bright and shiny skyscrapers over the years.

These emotions inspired Ahn to create the art project “Historical Present.” The idea behind the project was simple. Ahn projected an old image of a popular site onto its current state. The pictures were usually taken at sunrise or sunset when the light is ideal for beaming.

Ahn got the black-and-white photographs of Seoul in it’s former state from an old picture book that was published by the Japanese government when Korea was under imperial Japanese rule. His projections have framed Seoul’s best known and historic surfaces such as the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Great South Gate.

Using this method of “time traveling” and showing us both the past and present of South Korea, Ahn allows us to “question the way we treat our history and explores the dynamics between space and time at the same time.”

Ahn says this project is about “the “psychological void that emerges as we live our lives forgetting.” He adds that the project is a reminder that “someday…we’re [all going to disappear] likes people in old pictures. Things change and we’re gone.”

Though his words are sad and clearly mourning the past, the photographic in “Historical Present” are nothing short of beautiful.

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Korean Twin Sisters Unrecognizable After Plastic Surgery

It’s no secret. In Asia, plastic surgery is becoming more and more common. In fact, double eyelid surgery is so typical that many girls have been known to receive the procedure as a graduation gift.

Aside from these minor procedures, just how far has surgery entered Asian culture? According to some, surgery has become a very serious ordeal. Photographer Ji Yeo tried to call attention to the amount of plastic surgery occurring in South Korea, by showing the physical cost women endure in “Korea’s beauty-obsessed culture.”

Additionally, more women seem to be willing to go to extreme measures to live up to the high expectation of Asian beauty. As a result, some have faced the horrifying repercussions of a surgery gone wrong.

Regardless of all this, many remain undaunted by the possible negative side effects. Plastic surgery remains more popular than ever. There’s Miss Korea who completed in the Miss Universe Pageant 2013. Kim Yumi had absolutely no problem admitting her multiple procedures. Then there’s the woman who was so obsessed with Miranda Kerr‘s looks that she decided to go under the knife in an effort to look like the Australian Victoria’s Secret model.

Now, apparently, there’s a Korean television show called “Let’s Beauty.” Asiantown.net claims that the purpose of this show is to “help those with special circumstances or people who are too ugly to feel confident in their life.” The participant facing “special circumstances” will have their plastic surgery sponsored by the television program and audiences follow along during the transformation.

A pair of twin sisters caught much attention after participating in the show. After their surgery, both twins look completely unrecognizable from their original self. Check it out for yourself:

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So tell us. Is this television show going too far or is it simply an entertaining topic? Watch an episode for below.

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The Cost of Beauty: A Look Into Korea’s High Rate of Plastic Surgery

Based in Brooklyn and Seoul, photographer Ji Yeo strives to call attention to a very controversial aspect of South Korea’s modern-day culture: plastic surgery.

In her series “Beauty Recovery Room,” Ji Yeo captures the scars and bruises of women who have recently undergone plastic surgery. DailyMail explains that by showing the painful recovery, Ji Yeo aims to shine light on the physical cost women endure in “Korea’s beauty-obsessed culture.”

“Plastic surgery has become an integral part of Korea’s current culture, often regarded as an integral step in the self improvement process,” say Ji Yeo. “It is a culture where men are judged on their financial balance sheet and women on their beauty. The male-dominated media endlessly reinforces its model of the idea woman. As a result of these cultural forces Korea has become a beauty-oriented society where people are judged more for their appearance than their character.”

“Beauty Recovery Room” has garnered both positive and negative reactions. Some people believe the take-home message is that women simply go too far to meet societal expectations. Others disagree with Ji Yeo’s focus on the negative. “I think people have a right in our day and age to change whatever physical feature they deem necessary” says a Huffington Post reader.

Check out the images for yourself and tell us what you think:

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Check out all the full gallery here.

The Baby Box: Hope for Abandoned Babies of South Korea

Things on the internet go viral for a reason.

Videos of puppies and babies go viral because the cuteness appeases us. Controversial news goes viral because, as much as we hate to admit it, we’re pulled in by the drama.  Ridiculous music videos go viral because we all like a good laugh once in a while.

But every now and then, amidst my corgi-filled newsfeed, I come across something amazing. Because sometimes things don’t go viral simply because its cute or dramatic or funny. Sometimes, things go viral because we understand that people should know about it.

This is one of them.

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South Korean pastor, Lee Jong-rak, decided that he would create a solution for the hundreds of babies—many with mental and physical disabilities—who are abandoned in the streets of South Korea.  The pastor created a “Baby Box” where mothers can leave their unwanted children. Pastor Jong-rak  points out that mothers who have no where to turn sometimes end up with the idea to poison their baby rather than have their child endure a life of struggle. The “Baby Box”, he argues, would be a much better alternative for desperate mothers.

The inside of the box contains a thick towel covering the bottom, and lights and heating to keep the baby comfortable.  A bell rings when someone puts a baby in the box, alerting Jong-rak, his wife, or staff associates to come immediately and move the baby inside.  Although the paster originally believed many mothers would not turn to the “Baby Box”, he was mistaken. His house now doubles as an orphanage.

Often times, the pastor doesn’t even get a glimpse of the mothers who leave their babies in the box. Other times, the mother gives him a tearful apology. One single mother left this note with her baby. The english translation follows.

“My baby! Mom is so sorry.
I am so sorry to make this decision. 
My son! I hope you to meet great parents, and I am very, very sorry . 
I don’t deserve to say a word. 
Sorry, sorry, and I love you my son. 
Mom loves you more than anything else. 
I leave you here because I don’t know who your father is. 
I used to think about something bad, but I guess this box is safer for you. 
That’s why I decided to leave you here. My son, Please forgive me.”

Filmmaker Brian Ivie heard the inspirational story and travelled over to South Korea to make his documentary Drop Box. During an award acceptance speech for the documentary, Ivie explains that seeing the babies dropped off changed his life.

Although it has already been a few years since pastor Lee Jong-rak began the “Baby Box”, this story is now finally receiving the recognition it deserves.

Things on the internet go viral for a reason. Every now and then, I’m thankful for this.