I am exploring how the Korean War lives and breathes in contemporary Korean society. I address the space where both powers manipulate the war and our ongoing divisions at will, treating them as a chapter of history fixed in the past – but only in such a way as suits them. The power of division is a monster that affects both South and North Korea. I collect what oozes from that monster – spit and clouded blood, madness and silence, positives and pain – in the form of images and text. I hope to reveal the politics of the day by disrupting the dream of a permanent state of crisis, but this is not easy.
– Noh Suntag
Noh Suntag captures images that analyze the relationship between North and South Korea on the divided Korean peninsula. His photographic series portray the military presence and ideological extremes on both sides, the relationship between the individual and the masses, and the situations – both subtle and openly violent – that pervade everyday life in both countries. Noh reveals the extreme ideologies at work in both countries, their strange co-existence and codependence. A dark humour often comes across in Noh’s images, a result of his critical detachment from the political rhetoric of division and polarization that defines both governments.
At first sight, Noh’s work might seem like the typical propaganda released by North Korea, or the politicised images of demonstration in the South. Disturbing at times and bleakly comic, the images are nonetheless beautiful – but convey an implicit critique. After more than half a century of prolonged fighting, the existence of each state – North and South – has become necessary to the identity and the power of the other.