A lovely series by New York City-based photographer Janice Chung. “Motherland” is an on-going photographic journey that currently comprises three separate trips to Korea: the first in 2014 when a 22 year-old Chung met her maternal family for the first time, a return visit in 2017, and an unplanned trip in 2019 after the sudden passing of her grandfather. Chung’s mother accompanied her each time as they stayed at the home of her mother’s parents for about one to two months each visit. While exploring various cities across the country for the first time together, Chung’s mother immigrated to America at the age of 26 so many aspects of their shared experiences would strike Chung differently. As she explains:
“For my mother, many of these scenes were met with a feeling of familiarity as she recognized the sights, sounds, and flavors from her childhood growing up in Seoul. But for me, the experiences were novel. While my ear recognized the language, and the scenes and food were reminiscent of New York City’s own KoreaTown, everything in the country was an intensified version of the dull and desaturated Korean neighborhoods in America. The country felt so close to home yet simultaneously so unfamiliar.
It is through this rhythm and chaos that I found myself imagining Korea as if it were my place of birth. Drawing from the vibrancy of the scenes displayed before me, I piece together an idea of home in an attempt to hold tighter to a place that was once a distant memory for my mother and an altogether foreign place for me. Through this photographic journey, I am discovering my motherland through my lens as a Korean diasporic woman, reclaiming a place that was unknown to me, and longing for a connection to my ancestral home.”
See more images from “Motherland” below.