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The Unconscious Moment


“The Unconscious Moment” is an essay written by Dr. Virginia Moon, included in When the Spring Wind Blows, a photography book of works by Han Youngsoo, published by Han Youngsoo Foundation.

Virginia Moon is Assistant Curator of Korean Art at LACMA. She curated the first Korean modern art exhibition outside of Korea, titled The Space Between: The Modern in Korean Art, traveling exhibition Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392–1910 (2014) and a solo exhibition of works by Korean-American artist Young-Il Ahn, Unexpected Light (2017–2018). In 2019, she has co-curated the exhibition, Beyond Line: The Art of Korean Writing, which is the first in a series of three shows to be presented as part of ‘The Hyundai Project: Korean Art Scholarship Initiative,’ a key element of LACMA’s ongoing 10-year partnership with Hyundai Motor Company. Her research interests and lectures range from ancient to contemporary arts and she holds degrees from Yale, Harvard, and USC.

Han Youngsoo (1933-1999) began his work in photography after he returned to Seoul from the frontlines of the Korean War (1950-1953). The city, like the rest of the country, was devastated and impoverished. “After the war, still covered with the soot of tragedy, I found myself in the middle of civic confusion,” Han later observed. “I was startled to find, however, the great determination of the human spirit to carry on with life—in a sense something simple and natural, but also … very profound.” In the ensuing years, Han captured the city and its surroundings with a passionate eye for form and narrative detail, documenting both its ancient ways of life and its dramatic transformation from war-torn metropolis to a prosperous modern society. Han was a successful commercial image-maker in his later years.

Han Youngsoo Foundation is established to preserve and introduce the legacy of his works. In addition to holding and extension of collection of Han Youngsoo’s works, the Foundation owns the copyright and reproduction rights for all of Han Youngsoo’s creations.

Moon, Virginia. “The Unconscious Moment.” Han Youngsoo, When the Spring Wind Blows, Han’s Graphic, Seoul, 2020, pp. 8–17.