Chong-Il Woo was born in Korea in 1957. He Graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, in 1982 and later obtained an associate degree in Photography at Portland College in 1986. Woo worked as a fashion photographer in the US, contributing regularly to Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazine.
His series of Women of the Joseon Dynasty has won the Scheoni Prize of the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2011. It is an example of Woo’s reinterpretation of Korea’s modern history, which he achieves by re-photographing historically well-known people with modern people.
Chong-Il Woo, Joseon Dynasty Royal Family Series, Empress #11-1 얼굴, 2016, Pigment print on HanJi paper. 144 x 104 cm. Editions of 5
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“Women of the Joseon Dynasty” is an example of Woo’s reinterpretation of Korea’s modern history, which he achieves by re-photographing historically well-known women. Woo captures time by comparing women of the Joseon dynasty that date back to the 19th century with modern women. The artwork also challenges its own identity because the photograph is textured with individually shot pebbles and gemstones. Woo said “Compared to other countries, in my opinion, Korean women are the most beautiful. I feel that there is no other beauty greater than natural beauty. However, Korean women seem to think otherwise, they continuously desire for a face that is westernized. Even though their faces are pretty just the way they are, Korean women are obsessed with plastic surgery and altering their faces into faces that lack individuality and personality.”
Chong-Il Woo, Woman of the Joseon Dynasty Nude Series #13, 2018, Pigment print on HanJi paper, 144 x 104 cm, Editions of 5