Date(s) - 11/01/2019 - 11/17/2019
Bird Library, 4th Floor
Charlotte Howard is an artist from Rhinebeck, NY. She is a senior in the Transmedia Department of Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, majoring in Art Photography and minoring in Visual Culture. This collection of images is from her series titled Edenic Island.
Jeju Island was formed from volcanic eruptions during the Cenozoic era and contains many natural wonders. In fact, this place has recently been named one of the new 7 wonders of the world and is in many ways a true island paradise. However, the island holds a dark secret which casts a shadow over the contemporary inhabitants. After the Japanese occupation, Korea (Jeju, more specifically) was left with political upheaval. Due to the lack of a structured government, the islanders struggled to come together to find the proper group to represent them. There were many protests from various groups fighting for political control over the island, which eventually led to what is known as the April 3rd Incident in 1948. This incident occurred when one of these protests turned fatal. In the years that were to follow, the situation only escalated. Many islanders who were thought to be Communist sympathizers were tried and put to death without due process. Inhabitants were forced into hiding as villages were destroyed. Families hid using Jeju’s natural resources, such as the elaborate tunnels and caves formed by volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago. Over a period of about six years, 30,000 islanders were killed, including women and children. The government labeled the massacre as targeting only a small group of communist rebels and repressed the truth and news of the tremendous loss of life. Around 2000, a truth commission was created to investigate these events, identify and restore honor to victims.
This body of photographic work focuses on the juxtaposition of Jeju’s natural beauty and landscape and its dark past. Jeju is known to many as a paradise. The world’s busiest air route is between Seoul and Jeju City, the island’s capital, making Jeju Island a top holiday destination. The intent of this project was to bring an awareness of the island’s tragic history and to see beyond the plethora of tourist attractions that conveniently hide these truths, perhaps to cope with them. These images capture the awe-striking landscape of Jeju, while hinting to, what was for a long time, a hidden history.