Photo exhibition explores human vulnerability

Yoo Mi-young, president of Space OPT Studio in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, looks at photographs that are part of the “1km, Vulnerability,” exhibition. / Korea Times Photo by Eom Da-sol

By Eom Da-sol

Courtesy of Park Young-kyu
Courtesy of Park Young-kyu

Eight portraits of models were hanging on the wall of an exhibition hall in Seoul. They appeared to have different themes: gazing at the camera naked; wearing a black dress and holding a bouquet of roses against the backdrop of a red curtain; a long-haired stony-faced woman in sweater with frills of knotted cotton; and others.

But the feeling and atmosphere emanating from the works was strangely the same: lonely, helpless and vulnerable.

This was a snapshot of the exhibition hosted by up and coming photographer Park Young-kyu. The event, at the Space OPT Studio in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, is entitled “1km, Vulnerability,” and will continue through Mar. 22.

For the exhibition, his first of this kind, Park spent two years photographing 101 women he met through popular dating app “1km” ― and chose eight for the exhibition. Park is a professional photographer who studied photography in New York for nine years. He returned in 2013, and has since explored his photographic identity with untraditional and provocative ― somewhat avant-garde ― methods unfamiliar to Korean photographers and audiences.

“Unlike other photographers who objectify the models as nothing but tools for art, I focused on them,” Park said in a recent interview. “The models are not objects but subjects. Each photo has a different angle, theme, pose, and lighting based on the model’s personal background.”

The dating app “1km” allowed him to communicate and arrange unplanned meetings with anonymous women within a one-kilometer radius.

Courtesy of Park Young-kyu

“Because the whole process was anonymous, I was able to hear their thoughts from the bottom of their hearts,” Park said. “And the common factor I found was vulnerability.”

“Coming back to Korea after a studying a long time in the U.S., I also felt isolated lonely in society like the models. Then I realized that people, without exception, have the same feeling, which might be one of fundamental elements of being human. Even I, who tried to take photos of them without prejudgment, was also lonely like them.”

Park’s project ― because of its creativity and originality ― has been rated one of the best in the exhibition hall.

For more information, contact 02-515-6110 or email

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