21st Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Muil - FEARLESS FLOWERS - subcultures of South Korea and their sense of belonging

In the past years, South Korea has gained significant global exposure, and its fast‑paced technological development has drawn a lot of attention from everyone around the world. The "Fearless Flowers" series explores gender, sexuality, gaze, and identity in South Korea. The project, photographed over two years with 23 different participants, studies one's relationship with their own body and inner struggle with the image pressured by a conservative society, where certain beliefs and outdated standards are forces on the rapidly changing nation. The subject, who may convey toughness in other settings, is shown with vulnerability and humanity when photographed in a safe studio environment. The series is an attempt to capture open-mindedness: acceptance of your body and sexuality, as well as welcoming the self-created modern image of who Korean people aspire to truly be. It is creativity's role to rebel its spirit against society's preconceived ideas and question their relevance. As an outsider, I've had the privilege to be introduced inside this personal expression of liberation, looking for meaning, looking at the beauty and identity, all while capturing the landscape of self-invented people: a true walking work of art.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 11.2023
Date Uploaded: 11.2023
Photo Location: Seoul, South Korea
Copyright: © Marcin T. Jozefiak