I’m very happy to greet all of you who are participating in Seoul Photo Festival 2015.

In commemoration of our country’s important 70th anniversary of Independence, this year’s festival is being held under the title Our Happy Day, 70th Anniversary of Independence: A Photographic Reflection.

Through photography, it invites citizens to look back at images of Seoul and of our lives during those past decades. A Great Journey, an exhibition by 17 photographers, captures historical events in Korean modern and contemporary history through their diverse perspectives. Viewers will be moved and touched by the large array of photographs, from documentaries about social phenomena, to works by young photographers who look with critical and witty eyes at the new culture formed by industrialization and modernization. This event, through photography, can lead us to recognize contemporary trends, to think seriously about our society and our individual lives, and to share those views. One particularly significant part of the Festival is the very first holding of an international photography competition and a competition for teenagers, both of which will be precious opportunities for the photographers to communicate with the citizens. The international photo competition Find Your Seoul, which will feature Seoul—the center of growth and development in Korea over the past 70 years—through the eyes of citizens and foreigners, also will give us meaningful time to reflect on what this city has been to us, over the diverse periods of joy, anger, sorrow and happiness. The photo competition for teenagers, You are My Hero, encourages its young participants to think about heroes who sacrificed themselves for the liberation of this country, as they search for their personal heroes. I ask for your interest and participation in Seoul Photo Festival 2015, and would like to thank everyone— Director Park Young-mi, and all the other participants—who joined in the great effort to prepare this Festival for our ten million Seoul citizens.

Mayor of Seoul Park Won-soon

The theme of Seoul Photo Festival 2015 is the ‘70th Anniversary of Independence’, and the heroes are the ‘citizens’.

Thus, while celebrating and remembering the joy of August 15, 1945, when Korea was finally liberated from occupation, we want to provide an opportunity for people to look back at our society and its changes during the past 70 years through the photography, so that we may reflect upon our lives and environment for a better future. Hence, under the main theme, Our Happy Day, and the slogan, ‘70th Anniversary of Independence: A Photographic Reflection’, all exhibitions and events of the Seoul Photo Festival were organized in an organic composition.

For the first time in its history, the 6th Seoul Photo Festival, this year, is jointly sponsored by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Seoul Museum of Art, which provided extended exhibition space in open spaces in downtown Seoul, including Seoul Citizen’s Hall, the Seoul Metropolitan Library, and the SeMA, Buk-Seoul Museum of Art. Such change is a reflection of the sponsors’ will to hold a festival in the true sense, in which citizens can participate and enjoy. The Seoul Photo Festival 2015, in which citizens are the heroes, intends to realize photography’s value of existence—empathy and communication—through five exhibitions and five special events, where diverse generations of our society can share both the artistic value and popular appeal of photography.

The main exhibition, A Great Journey, features the accounts witnessed by our photographers, with regard to historical events and social phenomena that took place in Korea since its liberation. The photographs and video works by 17 artists, containing diverse perspectives and contemplations on the identity of Korea, will unfold in Part 1 Lifting Up the Heavy Soil, and Part 2 Following the Overflow. Serious works contain diverse stories of our great journey, including war and division, turmoil in politics and industrialization, urbanization, economic development and democratization. The exhibition can also be seen as a question of the era, asking about our future lives.

Until now, the unique characteristic consistently pursued by the Seoul Photo Festival was focus on the locality of ‘Seoul’. This year, another task was added: promoting citizens’ participation. To this end, an international photography competition titled Find Your Seoul was organized. Familiar and strange appearances of Seoul, the capital of Korea since independence, and the center of joy, anger, sorrow and happiness, will be presented through the eyes of citizens, Korean and international photographers, and foreigners who have visited Seoul. Moreover, the city Seoul will be shown even more abundantly and diversely through special exhibitions, with the participation of social benefit photography group Dream Flower Factory, which documented the disappearing areas in Seoul, SIWA(Seoul International Women's Association) & Inwang Photo Forum, which are holding the exhibition ‘Our Seoul’, and media contents group Humans of Seoul, which has been creating a sensation on-line by portraying the ordinary lives and candid stories of Seoul citizens. You are My Hero, a photography competition for teenagers, organized to celebrate the efforts of our ancestors to achieve independence, is an event to share and communicate the visions and hope of young people, who are our future.

In addition, Talent Sharing Photo Studio: Dream of Seoul, which supports citizens’ dreams and hopes through photographers’ donation of talent, and Photo Book Exhibition: Photographers in the Library, which reviews the past 70 years’ time through photography-related books published in Korea since independence, will also be held. Open lecture program, Symposium, awaits citizens’ delightful discussions concerning the themes of the festival, each taking place in a separate section. Photography specialists from diverse areas concerning the themes will share their knowledge and experience on photography and culture in these in-depth lectures. I would like to express my gratitude to the photographers who agreed to share their talent, senior photographers who provided their valuable first-issue photograph collections for the photographic book exhibition, and photography specialists who recommended various resources related to photography.

We hope the Seoul Photo Festival 2015, commemorating the 70th anniversary of independence, will enable our citizens to ruminate on ‘our happy day’, August 15, 1945, through photography, so that they may continuously pursue and achieve such happiness. Though we could not express all the stories buried in 70 years of hot history, I believe the entire process of the festival, where everyone participates and enjoys, will serve as an opportunity for us to remember the precious values of history and prepare for the future.

Art Director PARK Youngmi