Ilgwang in Busan, South Korea and Niko in Japan share the same Chinese character(日光). Japanese companies ran copper mines in both cities of the same name. During the period of Japanese occupation, some Koreans were relocated to work in Niko or stayed to work in Il-gwang. The now deserted mine, nestled underneath underpasses and scattered with machinery, still bleeds crimson rusts and stands as a living memory of labor exploitation amongst those who still live in the village.
Last Autumn, I was invited by a coworker to see a 2018 documentary entitled The Rust by Nari Shin about the mine and village at an independent film festival.
About a year later, I decided to visit the village to document the village and the mine myself. While the mine has since been blocked by the government, the village inhabits quite a few Korean families in a very Japanese-inspired landscape that permeates the history it holds.
Part of this post utilizes portions of the documentary’s synopsis.
All images taken with a Plaubel Makina 67 on Kodak Portra 400.