Noh Puts South Korea’s Rot In Photos

23 Aug

The Uniformed Reserves Following the postponement of a vote on the Arms Trade Treaty in the United Nations, Suntag Noh’s photo exhibition depicts the rotten depths of South Korea’s fascination with weaponry,

Young girls with fingers on machine-gun triggers, old ladies staring down rifle scopes and crowds enraptured by simulated firefights. These are strange scenes for many Western eyes, but for a country like South Korea that’s spent its whole existence in a state of military high alert, they are commonplace.

In his photo series Really Good, Murder, South Korean artist and photographer Suntag Noh, 41, goes inside his country’s weapon shows to look critically at their celebration of war and its equipment.


“A weapon is praised in the name of ‘science’ and ‘security.’ Having some doubts on it is criticized as ‘antisocial.’ Why so?” asks Noh. “Do we need a weapon because the Korean peninsula is divided with a threat of war? Isn’t it those overproduced weapons that bring about war? A war requires weapons. The Korean peninsula has been under war for over a century. It is natural to ask us what a weapon means to us.”


Just Like Disney! For Noh, weapons shows are a disconcerting overlap of capitalism and politics; they are designed “to experience and learn about the legitimacy of a weapon.” Ultimately, Noh’s call is for South Koreans to critique their role in the rhetoric of war and to question the desensitized version of conflict they’re served at the events.

“The state, corporations, arms dealers, and regional communities hold these extravagant shows hand-in-hand,” writes Noh in his Really Good, Murder working notes. “[The shows exist] for national security, for the reinforced Korean‐American alliance, for corporations who have dedicated themselves to the development of state‐of‐the‐art sciences, for strengthening international competitiveness, for fostering regional tourism and for educating children. It’s show time.”

Fun for the entire folk!

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