Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Ten years of photographic study of mountains, villages, and people of North and South Korea. Unified together in one photo art book.
Ten years of photographic study of mountains, villages, and people of North and South Korea. Unified together in one photo art book.
44 backers pledged NZ$ 6,924 to help bring this project to life.

About

ONE KOREA: Mountains, Villages, & People. A Photo Art Book. project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

ONE KOREA: Mountains, Villages, & People. A Photo Art Book.

NZ$ 6,924

44

What's it about?

My photo art book on the mountains of North and South Korea is about more than mountain photography and essays. It is about connecting the people of Korea through the exposition of a mountain system that spans both nations. It is a culmination of ten years of photographic work in both North and South Korea, exploring the peaks, villages, and people of the 1700km mountain spine called the Baekdu Daegan 백두대간 (The Great Ridge of Paektu). 

Since 2011, I have conducted four expeditions of the untrodden mountains of the Baekdu Daegan in North Korea covering at least seventy peaks totalling almost half a year’s work. My most recent visit was last year (2017) for ten weeks. This photo art book will be the third edition of this series, but the first English language edition (alongside the already funded Korean edition). I want to spread the beauty of a unified Korea to the English market. It will be a hard-case cover with dust jacket, 30 x 23cm, and about 250p. It will contain what I believe are my best images and essays from South Korea since 2007 and the North since 2011.

What is the Baekdu Daegan 백두대간?

Paektu-san 2750m North Korea
Paektu-san 2750m North Korea
Jiri-san in South Korea
Jiri-san in South Korea

The Baekdu Daegan is a continuous mountain ridge, never cut by water, that forms the backbone and watershed of the entire Korean peninsula. It starts at Korea’s highest and holiest peak, Paektu-san 백두산 (2750m) on the Chinese border. From there, it wrangles south to the demilitarized zone, creeps under its barbed wire fences, and continues south, snaking its way to Cheonwang-bong 천왕봉 (1915m) located in another sacred zone called Jiri-san 지리산 (exquisite wisdom) in central southern Korea. Its estimated length is about 1700km. In South Korea, it is hiked as a long distance crest trail. In North Korea it remains untouched. 

The Baekdu Daegan
The Baekdu Daegan

Some Koreans believe its true endpoint is on South Korea’s highest peak, Halla-san 한라산 (1950m), located on the outer island of Jeju 제주도. Halla-san is recognized by the Korean people as the grandmother mountain and Paektu-san in the north as the grandfather mountain, and all other mountains in-between are a collection of the entire family of Korean mountains. The Baekdu Daegan, is the spine that connects them, forming a skeletal rigidity. The waterways it forms are the blood lifelines of the Korean people, from which they harvest crops and nourish their bodies. From Paektu-san, natural energies are transmitted along the Baekdu Daegan spine, like a central nervous system, and dispersed outwards through all the lesser ridges that occupy seventy-five percent of Korea’s topography. This energy is called Pungsu-jiri (풍수지리) and the Korean people believe it provides vitality. To damage it is to damage the people. The concept of mountain lineage and energies has been with the Korean people since prehistory.   

The Expeditions in North Korea

River logging in North Korea
River logging in North Korea

North Korea was always enjoyable yet hard work. We would travel by vehicle to the end of a valley until the stony road stopped. There we would set up camp and with a local village guide make our way up foot trails into the hills, before fighting our way through overgrown forests to the ridge crest, where we'd then climb to our selected peak. The men would rest and I would take my photos. We'd return to our camp at the end of a long day, where we'd dig into a meal of local delicacies like free-range rabbit, mountain vegetables, rice, and potatoes before sitting round the campfire sampling local alcohols like acorn soju. The conversations were always entertaining, often about the mountains, and the animals that do and could still exist in them. Bears and tigers to name some. 

A typical campsite
A typical campsite
Brother & Sister crossing Turyu-san 2309m, Paegam-gun, Ryanggang-do.
Brother & Sister crossing Turyu-san 2309m, Paegam-gun, Ryanggang-do.

 North Korea Mountains    

Pukpotae-san 2288m, Samji-yon, Ryanggang-do
Pukpotae-san 2288m, Samji-yon, Ryanggang-do

The mountains were hand selected by me from maps printed in South Korea. Over the course of four expeditions, I tried to fill up the gaps on the Baekdu Daegan ridge evenly. I have climbed at least fifty if not seventy peaks of the Baekdu Daegan in North Korea. Getting to the foothills of these peaks was difficult. Without GPS we relied on old maps and local knowledge. The climbs would take whole days, and occasionally overnight bivouacs. North Korea is often depicted as a denuded landscape, but in its deep regions, it is heavily vegetated with unmanaged pristine forests. Completely undeveloped and mysterious, it is perhaps one of the last small unexplored areas in the world. It was a fascinating experience to be there. I truly hope all Koreans and foreigners can one day do as I did, on a free and peaceful unified peninsula. You can read some short essays that will be published in this book from my travels in North Korea at onekoreaphotography.  

Kaema plateau from Okryeon-san 2164m, Pujon-gun, Hamkyongnam-do.
Kaema plateau from Okryeon-san 2164m, Pujon-gun, Hamkyongnam-do.
Volcanic soils of the Paektu plateau, Samji-yon, Ryanggang-do
Volcanic soils of the Paektu plateau, Samji-yon, Ryanggang-do
Yongam-ri, a Baekdu Daegan village in Unhung-gun, Ryanggang-do
Yongam-ri, a Baekdu Daegan village in Unhung-gun, Ryanggang-do
Nampotae-san 2433m in Samji-yon, Ryanggang-do
Nampotae-san 2433m in Samji-yon, Ryanggang-do
Turyu-san 1323m, Cheonnae-gun, Kangwon-do
Turyu-san 1323m, Cheonnae-gun, Kangwon-do

 The Future for North & South Korea    

As I write, the two Koreas enter a period of renegotiation. With the support of its powerful adversaries and allies, can Korea negotiate an era of peaceful cooperation? Let's see. My work on the Baekdu Daegan is developing into new realms. I wish to see the Baekdu Daegan become a symbol of unification for the Korean people, its mountain spine forming the backbone of the nation, knitting it together. Help me do this by supporting my work! I am always involved in projects that help build cultural exchange between north and south. For example:

  • The search for the Korean tiger in North Korea and then through a joint North-South project, the protection and development of its transnational migration route from Siberia, China, and into North Korea, and one day, when the DMZ is gone, back into South Korea.  
  • A set of official postage stamps highlighting mountains of the Baekdu Daegan, north and south.
  • And the biggie, a full-length, supported expedition of the 1700km Baekdu Daegan with a six-person team of two North Koreans, two South Koreans, and two foreigners. It'd be a peace trek, joined by locals and using them as a support network.
The Korean Peninsula as a Tiger
The Korean Peninsula as a Tiger

The Rewards   

Other than the new 250p hard case photo art book the other reward I can highly recommend is the 100cm sheet of traditional handmade Korean Hanji paper with of one of my images inkjet printed on it. The slightly mottled texture of the paper brings out the soft light and grainy edges of Korea's mountains. They look spectacular either framed behind glass or just mounted. Contact me for a contact sheet of image choices.  

Sunrise on Paektu-san 2750m North Korea
Sunrise on Paektu-san 2750m North Korea
Korean Hanji (traditional paper) 100cm (W) Print Montage
Korean Hanji (traditional paper) 100cm (W) Print Montage

 Previous book editions  

The 2015 Liberation Day Edition
The 2015 Liberation Day Edition
The 2013 1st edition
The 2013 1st edition
And 2 x guidebooks (2017, 2010) on how to hike the Baekdu Daegan in South Korea.
And 2 x guidebooks (2017, 2010) on how to hike the Baekdu Daegan in South Korea.
        

Major Photo Exhibitions of the 

Baekdu Daegan North & South Korea.

  • Seoul (Korea Tourism) 2009/09. 
  • Seoul (Korea Forest Service) 2011/12.
  • New Zealand 2012/03, Pyongyang 2013/08, Seoul 2013/10. 
  • Seoul 2014/10. 
  • Pyongyang (70th anniversary of Korea's Liberation) 2015/08.
  • Seoul (70th anniversary of Korea's Liberation) 2015/10.
  • Otani University, Kyoto – Japan 2016/09. 
  • Gimpo City Art Hall 2016/11 & 2017/11. 
  • Pyongyang 2017/08.
  • Seoul Museum of Art 2017/12.

A one hour documentary of my expeditions in North Korea by MBC TV.

Hit this link to watch it!
Hit this link to watch it!

Thank you all for your interest and support.   

Roger Shepherd

HIKEKOREA

Risks and challenges

None really. If I get the fixed amount, then I will prepare the book file using the same experienced quality printer/bookmaker I always use in Seoul, Korea. The funds will be used to cover that cost and the distribution of the English (signed) photo art book. The Korean edition has already been funded in South Korea.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 20 or more About US$ 13

    Make a pledge without a reward

    If you'd just like to help out, that would be mighty kind of you. Thank you.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    5 backers
    NZ$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 30 or more About US$ 20

    Baekdu Daegan Trail Guide Book

    A 330p (2017) 15 x 20cm, 480g, English guide to hiking the 687km Baekdu Daegan ridge trail in South Korea. Includes maps, altitude graphs, water stops, distances, language tips, and lots of excellent information, stacked with colour photos. A special introductory chapter to North Korea as well. The best way to explore Korea on foot. Profits from this already published book will go towards the featured photo art book. Thank you.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    1 backer
    NZ$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 95 or more About US$ 64

    1 x ONEKOREA PHOTO ART BOOK

    A signed 30 x 23cm hard case with dust jacket 250p photo art and essay book on Mountains, Villages, and People of North and South Korea. A collection of my best works from 2011 till 2017. Funders name will be acknowledged in the end pages of the book. Only such book on this subject in the world that brings Korea together through their treasured mountains.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    23 backers
    NZ$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 175 or more About US$ 117

    Traditional Korean Paper Print.

    The 100cm wide panoramas are printed with high-quality inkjet technology on traditional handmade Korean paper made from the inner bark of a paper mulberry tree. The tree is native to Korea and grows on mountain edges. The overall finish has a natural look to it that brings out the soft hues and grainy edges of my work. I'll sign and stamp the back. They look fantastic!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    5 backers
    NZ$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 245 or more About US$ 164

    3 x ONEKOREA PHOTO ART BOOK

    3 x signed copies of the 30 x 23cm hard case with dust jacket 250p photo art and essay book on Mountains, Villages, and People of North and South Korea. A collection of my best works from 2011 till 2017. Funders name will be acknowledged in the end pages of the book. Only such book on this subject in the world that brings Korea together through their treasured mountains.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    6 backers
    NZ$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge NZ$ 5,400 or more About US$ 3,611

    NORTH KOREA TREKKING EXPEDITION

    Aug 16 to 28, and Sep 20 to Oct 2nd, 2018: For the first time ever, be part of an incredible 5N/6D trekking expedition of the untrodden Paektu-san Highlands in northern North Korea. A team of ten persons will camp out on the highland plateau each night. Expeditioners will need to bring their own trekking equipment. This price includes return airfares from Beijing to Pyongyang, an internal domestic return airfare, all foods, accommodations, entrance fees, and internal transportations.
    August 16: Depart Beijing 14.05 on Koryo Air JS252Y.  Arrival in Pyongyang 16.35. Stay at Yanggakdo Hotel.
    August 17: Depart Pyongyang 12.00 by air. Arrival in Samji-yon 13.30. Paektu Museum tour, check into Paegae-bong Hotel, prepare equipment for trekking in the afternoon.
    August 18 to 23: 5N/6D of trekking and camping in Paektu Highlands, including the ascent of Paektu-san 2750m, a descent into Chonji lake, and then following the historic partisan route through the mountains and forests of the plateau, sleeping out at the manned secret camps, cooking local foods. There’s a possibility that we can stay out on the 23rd and return to Samji-yon on the 24th, board the aircraft and fly to Pyongyang, where we can shower and wind down there.
    August 24: Depart Samji-yon 15.30 by air. Arrival in Pyongyang 17.00. Stay at Yanggakdo Hotel. 
    August 25-27: These three days will be spent sightseeing in Pyongyang, with a day visit to Kaeseong city and the DMZ at Panmunjom, and a one day hike of the sacred peak of Myohyang-san.
    August 28: Depart Pyongyang 08.30 on Koryo Air JS151. Arrival in Beijing 09.55

    Options 1 & 2 are the same for the September expedition. Sign up! It'll be remarkable, I promise.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    0 backers
    NZ$
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)