An unprecedented show on Korean Design and Identity has been launched with MAK Frankfurt's re-opening. Part of this exhibition is Dieter Leistner's photographic exploration of divided Korea. His impressive portraits of Pyongyang and Seoul witness oppositions but at the same time join a visual concordance. The photo project by Dieter Leistner has been published by Gestalten under the title Korea–Korea.
With official permission the German photographer explored Pyongyang in 2006. The corresponding photos from Seould were taken six years later. Here he sought and found similar locations, but with a very different feel. His photos of public spaces in Pyongyang show bus stops with long lines of people waiting, spruced up government buildings, bronze statues of Communist heroes, soldier cemeteries, flower markets, and wide avenues with only a few cars and people. As for Seoul, the bus stops looked like oversized televisions, the bronze statues were of kings of the long-gone Korean empire, the flower markets neighbored on fish markets with a vast selection of wares, and the streets were choked with cars and people.
The German perspective revealed in Korea–Korea is supported by excerpts from two diaries: Philipp Sturm, who grew up in East Germany, accompanied Dieter Leistner to Pyongyang, and Ahn Hehn-Chu, who was born in Germany to Korean parents, has regularly visited Seoul since her childhood.
Photo: Bus stop in Pyongyang by Dieter Leistner.