On November 7, 2017, South Korean President Moon Jae-in extended a “heartfelt welcome” towards US President Donald Trump as he arrived in South Korea for a two-day summit to reaffirm the Korea-US alliance. However, his stay did not pass without criticism. Labeling the US president a warmonger, the “No Trump Joint Action Task Force” organized rallies against his visit. Made up of 220 left-wing political parties, civic groups, labor unions and student groups, the association claimed his impulsive remarks towards North Korea heightened military tensions on the peninsula.
In Seoul, hundreds of protesters with raised banners and candles chanted, “No Trump, no war!” Though impassioned, their presence was dwarfed by the National Police Agency who ordered its entire force to maintain maximum readiness at protest zones close to the US Embassy.
A demonstration was also held near the National Assembly while the US President addressed parliament. With 8,000 police officers standing guard outside, Trump spoke of unification: ”We dream of highways connecting North and South, of cousins embracing cousins, and this nuclear nightmare replaced with the beautiful promise of peace.”
However, two months later, his fiery tone concerning North Korea returned. “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” With a single tweet, Trump re-validated prior fears of war — its threat continuing to loom over a future uncertain.
I’m an emerging photographer currently based in Seoul, South Korea. As a Korean-American who grew up in a rural area of Virginia, I have a unique perspective of Korean identity and its relationship to both global and regional communities. I studied photography as an undergraduate, but set it aside during my MFA program at James Madison University to concentrate on intermedia. After moving to South Korea I rediscovered photography, using it as a means to document and share my experiences. In 2016, I mentored under David Alan Harvey to further study photographic philosophy and authorship.
My photography has been published in Burn Magazine and LensCulture. It has also been awarded by the Magnum Photography Awards, Sony World Photography Awards, LensCulture, PDN, IPOTY, IPA, MIFA, TIFA, as well as selected for inclusion at the 2017 Aperture Summer Open: On Freedom.
Argus Paul Estabrook
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