Wonsando





Part of a series of islands in the Yellow Sea just off the west coast of Chungcheongnam-do Province, Wonsando is a short ferry ride from the mainland. The residents make a living from the land, the sea and the small amount of tourism that comes their way.

In October 2008 I travelled to the island where I and my wife's family stayed for two days with local fisherman Cho, Yong Duk. Mr Cho lives with his wife in the small coastal village of Dotumeori where he farms a small amount of rice and fishes. A portion of his income comes from tourists who, like us, charter his boat and stay in his home.

This series is part of a larger long term project on small scale agriculture in South Korea. An agrarian nation until relatively recently, this way of life still has a hold on the nation's consciousness even as the population migrates to the cities to take jobs in the technology and business sector of this advanced East Asian nation.

With this project, It is not my intention to romanticise the hard life lived by those who work the land, nor is it a comprehensive survey, more a journal of my own subjective experience of the time I spend with these people, who extend to me their welcome and show me briefly how they live. I believe that in any culture the traditions and the experiences of the past are important.

As the world's population becomes more urban we risk losing our connection to the sources of the food we consume and the people who produce it.

South Korea is one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, yet a pre industrial past is within living memory. The problems of such rapid modernisation are being realised not just in this country, but in many places around the globe. Many people are struggling with and even rejecting the ideas and lifestyles that global trade and big business depend upon. It is my personal opinion that in focusing on the small scale subsistence farming I may be not only referring to the past, but may also be providing a glimpse into the future.

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