Walking Alone in this World, 2017


I use photography to search for an explanation for the persistent feeling of being both at home/not at home in the small American town where I was raised and in the various American cities I have lived since. This has prompted an investigation of my parents’ immigration and assimilation from South Korea to the United States, and my chronicle of the lives of the three generations of my family. I began this project by re-discovering old photographs that have long been in my family’s possession boxed away nearly destroyed, torn and tattered. Many of the prints have faded away to near nothingness, having been hastily moved around, in attempts of safekeeping during midnight escapes prompted by invading enemy North Korean forces during the Korean War. In one aspect of this cultural history project, I juxtapose audio recordings of my parents’ recalling their childhood experiences during the war with images of restored photographs, both of which stand in stark contrast to imagery of their lives today in America and the lives of their children and grandchildren. As I’ve come to know my parents’ stories, I understand more of their own sense of courage and dislocation while moving to a completely foreign country and the way in which that sense of dislocation as well as assimilation has affected me. It is my hope that this project will lead me to a greater understanding of my own life, and why I have always felt like a perpetual immigrant caught between two worlds.

Excerpt and photography from Dan Loh's 2017 MFA thesis, American Acculturation.