No More Children
in My Motherland

The project  addresses the concerning disappearance of children in South Korea, amidst declining birth rates and societal challenges.

In my country, South Korea, a pressing crisis is unfolding: the disappearance of children. The elementary school I attended is now on the brink of closure due to a drastic decline in student enrollment, which has halved since my time there. Our birth rate is falling more rapidly than in other OECD countries, making it a critical issue. It's alarming how our government and society are not addressing this problem with the urgency it deserves. Amid rampant inflation, soaring housing prices, and increasing marital breakdowns, this issue only becomes more dire.

Walking through the streets, I encounter numerous playgrounds, mere minutes apart, in my city near Seoul. Yet, these spaces are eerily void of children. This stark reality inspired my project, No More Children in My Motherland. Capturing images of deserted playgrounds was hauntingly effortless; devoid of their intended users, these vibrant structures stood like functionless sculptures. What were once symbols of hope have become visual representations of a dystopian reality, a sorrowful landscape alarmingly close to my reality.

The creative process of this project mirrored a game of hide-and-seek: myself, the photographer, in search of the elusive subjects - the children. This quest began at a playground just 200 feet from my home and expanded to an 18-mile journey to an abandoned amusement park, closed due to financial struggles. Over the course of several months, from late summer to winter and through 25 rolls of film, encounters with children were a rarity. If no effective solutions are implemented, South Korea faces a risk of fading into obscurity. My project represents a personal crusade to report on and halt this impending disaster.

[Show & Press]

Award #1 POY Asia︎︎︎
Pictures Of the Year Asia

This project won [Issue Reporting Picture Story] finalist in POY Asia.


Wan Chantavilasvong: [...] The one that I really like visually is the No Children in South Korea. Visually, it’s really nice. [...]

Forough Alaei: [...] My favorite one is about decreasing population in South Korea, I think the photographer said the story in a very creative & delightened manner. And editing is very good. So this one is my favorite one.

Steven Lee: We should separate these projects in two paths One is documentary photography and the other is conceptual one. There are 2 or 3 conceptual works, of course, including South Korea one. And those were really really clever way of telling stories without photographing reality or people even, right? So I think we have to, degree of credit that type of vision, and which is better, you know, we don’t know.

Documentary work is also good, it’s long-term. And its humanistic, it got very important stories to tell. So, I personally, on this stage in this contest, would giver preference to the lesser-known stories which like, what, for example, I saying, I very much like the South-Korean playgrounds, I think it’s a very powerful message.

If I had to pick one, I would pick a Korean playgrounds.

Shuchi Kapoor: [...] I did love that No Children story as well, from South Korea, as an issue. It is quite nicely shot, and I really like the silence in the images that they managed to capture,
but I just felt it may not make it to ... , in comparison to many of the others.

Copyright 2024. iamhay All Rights Reserved.