Fascinating Vintage Photos of Seoul, South Korea form the 1950s and 1960s by Han Youngsoo

Han Youngsoo (1933-1999) was relatively unknown outside of Korea during his lifetime. Youngsoo grew up in a well-to-do family in Gaesung, Korea, where he took painting and drawing lessons and pursued photography as a hobby. When he returned to Seoul at the end of the Korean War, he found a devastated, impoverished city after taking part in bitter frontline fighting as a young South Korean soldier. Choosing photography as a profession, Youngsoo witnessed the rapid development of Seoul as a modern city and urban society.

Youngsoo’s photographs provide a fascinating look at the everyday lives of ordinary men, women, and children in the city. Even though he was interested in exploring the modern urban culture that was rapidly taking shape, Youngsoo did not overlook the surviving customs and architecture of old Seoul. The artist also took note of the changing status of Korean women, who were discovering new roles as entrepreneurs or consumers, as shown in his photographs of narrow streets lined with well-stocked fashion boutiques.

The war had taken away many things, Not only had it mercilessly trampled down on our beloved families and neighbors, but also their happiness, hope, and furthermore humanity itself. As if that wasn’t enough, by the end it had utterly destroyed everything on the face of the earth leaving behind ruins, despair, famine and sorrow.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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  1. It’s really interesting to me, and I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on it. Most of the pictures I’ve seen of Seoul during the 1950s, usually during the war, show slums with dirt roads and everyone wearing traditional clothing. The photos show a very different, and westernized side of the city that I have never seen before. There are polished concrete sidewalks, boutique stores, and everyone is dressed in fancy western clothes.

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