Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Less than 50 years ago, people from all over South Korea moved to newly erected buildings on what used to be farmlands south of the Han River in Seoul, with dreams of a better life. Today, South Korea has become one of the richest countries in the world after an unprecedented economic miracle, jumping from third world country to G20 member in less than a working life.
One of the apartment complexes that embodies the dramatic change is Eunma Town, built in 1979. It is one of the few of its kind still standing today, in the midst of newer, more modern buildings. Eunma Town’s decrepit walls make it seem anachronistic in today’s high tech environment, like a window to the past.
Eunma Town is still in the top 10 of the most expensive places to live in South Korea. This continued fervor can be explained by its sheer location, in the Daechi-dong district of Gangnam, known as the epicenter of South Korea’s private education industry. Korean students regularly top international comparisons of educational standards, and that could be explained by the strong focus put on private education, as materialized by the hundreds of hagwons (“private academies”) found in the Daechi-dong district alone.
Eunma Town can be viewed as a set of old functional buildings in the midst of an urban jungle, contributing to the frenzy of a fast-paced economic power. It could also be perceived as a soulful place where modern settlers past and present have laid the ground for today and tomorrow’s South Korea. It is a symbol of hope as dreams of a better life pass from one generation to the next. Walking within the walls of its 28 towering apartment buildings, entering one of its 4,424 units and meeting its inhabitants is a contrasted experience, where dreams of tomorrow triggered by today’s economic power mix with dreams of yesteryear still lingering in its deteriorating walls.
1st story - Raemin Jang
2nd story - Byunghyun Nam
3rd story - Hagwons
4th story - Gangnam moms
5th story - Dong Keun Lee
6th story - A new generation
More stories in the book
Hardcover, clothbound, 23x17.5 cm, 144 pages
Photographs by Sébastien Cuvelier
Texts in English and Korean by Sébastien Cuvelier and Sujong Song
Graphic design by Sébastien Cuvelier and Christophe Peiffer - george(s)
Edition of 500
EUR 35 (+ EUR 5 shipping worldwide) | BUY HERE
Limited edition: 10 copies signed and numbered 1 to 10, placed in a box made of Korean hanji paper, each calligraphed by Byunghyun Nam (Eunma Town resident). The box also contains an original calligraphy and a signed 22.5x15cm fine art print of an unpublished photograph.
EUR 150 (+ EUR 5 shipping worldwide) | BUY HERE
This book has been made possible with the support of the Centre national de l’audiovisuel, the Fonds culturel national and the Fondation Eté.
M Le Monde, Jan 2017 | Coming soon
Dérivations, Sep 2016 | Book review
RTBF Musiq3, May 2016 | Orient, adolescence et utopies with Philippe Marczewski
Urbanautica, Apr 2016 | Eunma Town interview
Polka, Mar 2016 | Book selection
SBS, Feb 2016 | 취재파일] 경제 개발의 추억 '은마아파트'
Lens Culture, Jan 2016 | Photobooks of the Year, Part II: 24 Personal Favorites
Actuphoto, Dec 2015 | Eunma Town, le rêve coréen 100% béton
Kyunghyang Shinmun, Nov 2015 | 사진 속으로]은마 아파트
Paperjam, Sep 2015 | Raconter l’histoire du rêve coréen
Archiduc, Sep 2015 | Le rêve coréen de Sébastien Cuvelier
Bold, Sep 2015 | Eunma Town