Lurking around the neon-licked streets of Jongno district for CUBICLE: Young Jun Koo, iconoclast streetstyle photographer and former New Yorker, now staking out Seoul. His distinctive identity is overtly edgy with undertones of 1990s hip hop, but he’s notably warm in demeanour. He asks coyly whether his walk is “mobster enough”. We think so, yes. His partner in crime here, equally bashful, is JTong, rising K-Rap star from the hearty seaside town of Busan, famous for rhyming in a rich southern twang. He has an oddly magnetic gives-zero-fucks, boy-next-door way about him, and is known to deliver his clean-living ideology literally from the stage, in the form of celery and lettuce.
*조폭 [Jo-Pohk]: a member of a gang of criminals, especially a racketeer.
*야인 [Yah-In]: Savage, a fierce, brutal, or cruel person.
Inspired by the works of itinerant Tokyo portrait photographer Watanabe Katsumi (notably between the 1960-70’s), CUBICLE take to the streets of Jongno district in Seoul, South Korea—historic heart of Seoul and official home district to the nation’s Blue House and the president (traditionally regarded as a Conservative stronghold riding in the capital, albeit current Democratic stability). The streets of Jonggak is haven for civil servants, businessmen and young adults alike, the winding alleyways teeming with after-work work dinners and weary students looking to blow off the infamous South Korean stress load in the capital’slargest underground arcade. Seedy karaoke bars and retro BBQ joints stand cheek-to-jowl with hip, cult restaurants and cafés; sundown merely means the end of a working day, but the district never sleeps. Taking a page out of Watanabe’s keen sensitivity to his subjects—nay, performers—of Kabukicho, we enact the natural posturing of a pair of gangsters prowling their ’territory’, reigning the streets of Jonggak as they may have done in the 70’s under Park Chung Hee’s military dictatorship.
photography SHINI PARK
art direction CAMILO GONZALEZ
styling MARIAN NACHMIA
production CUBE COLLECTIVE
local production manager JIN MIN
project management ANNA HOLMFELD
writer SOPHIE DENING & SHINI PARK
assist MICHELLE YAO
assist SONG MOON LEE
retouch ALE JIMENEZ
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