Late tomorrow night (Tuesday at 2:30am actually) I'll be getting on a bus that will take me to Osan Air Force Base, from there, I'll check in for a military charter flight back to the USA where I will start a new chapter in my life, in a new city, El Paso, Texas. I'm excited about getting back to my homeland, to reunite with family and friends, but I am feeling melancholy at having to say goodbye to this beautiful country, Korea.
These past three years in Korea have been nothing short of amazing. The sights and sounds, the friendly and welcoming people, the friends I made and all the memories and photographs. I was able to see a lot of Korea thanks to my connection with Michael Suh and his event company, Good Times ROK. Between Good Times ROK and my own travels I was able to visit and photograph places like Goeje Island, Jindo Island, Busan, Kunsan, Yeonghuengdo, Gapyong, Gongju and many more.
I spent most of my weekends down in Seoul in neighborhoods like Chungmuro and Namdaemun where my favorite cameras shops, photo labs and repair shops are all located. Over the past three years I became friends with the many of the shopkeepers. Saying goodbye to them and to my friends is a little emotional. But I always lean on my favorite quote when it comes to goodbyes...
"Don't be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends." - Richard Bach
As the final days approached, I had to pack away the vast majority of my cameras and lenses. They were shipped back to the states last week, along with all my other personal belongings. All that is left is what I am taking with me on the plane. My camera bag includes the following gear: Sony RX1RII, Leica D-Lux (Typ 109), Sony A7II, Sony A7RII, Sony FE 70-200mm f/4, Zeiss 16-35mm f/4, Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 and Sony 28mm f/2. There are a few accessories in my bag as well, including a flash, assorted batteries and chargers etc.
With everything packed away, that has left me with only my compact Sony RX100 IV to capture images from my final days. It's the perfect camera for this because it's so small. It will fit in any pocket but doesn't compromise quality. Still, on occasion I would reach into my camera bag and snap a few shots with some of the other cameras that are going on the plane with me.
And with that, I present my final photo gallery from the Republic of Korea. Stay tuned to my blog for new posts, updates and videos from the USA!
A row of Humvees. I was responsible for 4 of these vehicles and their crews.
Haejangguk (Hangover Soup) as captured with the Sony RX1RII. This is by far my favorite soups that I have ever had in my life. It will be my final meal before I get on the bus tomorrow.
I worked with a lot of fun and interesting people. Ssg. Ryan Johnson was a cool and interesting character. This guy didn't take shit from anyone, regardless of rank.
The M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System. This is what we are all about. My actual job is Fire Direction for these bad boys. We can hit targets almost anywhere on the peninsula. If you get my drift.
1-38 FAR Battalion HQ.
Capt. Tintera posing with his vintage BMW motorcycle. As captured with the Sony RX1RII
Deep in thought. This nice man works at the dry cleaning and alterations shop next to my office. He's a former photographer, so it's safe to say we hit it off and I always stopped to say hello when I passed by his shop.
Near Achasan. Sony RX100 IV.
Spring time means Cherry Blossoms. It was a long and cold winter this year.
The local stray cats waiting for their daily meal from the tailor shop.
Cheery Blossoms blooming at Camp Casey.
Korean kids are the cutest! As evidenced by this series taken at my favorite lamb restaurant.
Local red light (AKA glass house) district, Dongducheon.
This machine grinds rep peppers into a paste.
The infamous "Ville" outside Camp Casey.
Mr. Paul has been making suits for more than 20 years. I bought two custom tailored suits and a blazer. You can't beat the price.
Street art along the subway line.
This cute little guy.
Enjoying a waffle with ice cream with my friend Brooke!
I stopped by my favorite sushi place one last time. This chef made me a special "Paradise Roll"!
Never easy to say goodbye to friends... but a little soju helps ease the pain.
Michael and I.
Well, goodbye Korea. Goodbye friends. I will see you again soon...