In my first article for AnOther I wrote on Oksun Kim's new photobook of trees across the ancient volcanic Korean island of Jeju. I was drawn to the beautiful imagery, but also the story that Kim draws out of these unassuming leafy scenes, one of island life, of simultaneous isolation and flux.
Many of these plants are ancient and endemic to Jeju, others are recent arrivals, planted by homeowners looking to decorate their tended gardens. Kim sees the plants as living parallel lives with the people of the island, some of whom have weathered decades of rise and decline, and others who have arrived only recently looking for work.
Each picture is calm, composed, and filled with lush verdant landscapes of windswept palms, knotted shrubs, plump cacti and aged pines with bark like the rough hands of fishermen. Are these landscapes, still lifes, or perhaps portraits? It’s difficult to tell, but at the same time it’s easy to be fascinated by each tree’s form, to imagine their backstory and their unique personality.
Oksun Kim: Jeju Island is published by AnOther.