WIN: High Street Low Street eBook!

koreaBANG has teamed up with Canadian photographer Dayv Matt to bring you a selection of exclusive images from his collection High Street Low Street, a high-contrast, grimey, fun, colourful and honest look at Korea. Not only that, we’re giving away five copies of the eBook, worth $2.99.
That’s basically like getting a free beer (and in the week that the news emerged that North Korean beer is better than South Korean beer, perhaps its even better than getting a free beer!) To find out how to win, scroll down. First though, we caught up with Dayv Matt via carrier pigeon in his new hideout, Sri Lanka:

koreaBANG: Why do you always say ‘There’s nothing poignant about these photos’ when you publish?

Dayv Matt: Every photo does indeed have a story behind it, but for the majority of my photos, I do not know nor do I attempt to explain the story. There is a big difference between captioning a photo in order to provide some context and placing some sort of philosophical meaning onto a photo. It’s been my experience that photographers will put together a set of images and attach a false perspective, philosophy, or ridiculous emotional narratives. I may have twenty good pictures of people who appear to be sad, but god help me if I ever put those pictures together and call it “The Beauty of Sadness”.

kB: How poignant! Your images are all quite over-saturated and high contrast, why?

DM: They weren’t always that way, but over the years they slowly became more and more high contrast and saturated. I like to think that it has developed into my style, and when people see my pictures, they know they’re mine. I am absolutely anti-technical with regard to photography; I’ve simply tweaked my presets. Indeed, since leaving Korea for Sri Lanka, my presets have once again been tweaked

For the most part, Koreans hate my photography.  They want Korea to be shiny, perfect, ideal, and glorious. Many think my photos make Korea look poor, dirty, and uncivilized. - Dayv Matt

because the colours and environment of Colombo is so different from Seoul. I felt like my photos needed something different. They’re still high contrast, but they’re a bit brighter.

kB: What? You’re in Sri Lanka? What were you doing in Seoul? And why Sri Lanka?

DM: Like most people who find themselves in Korea, I was a hakwon teacher. I did that for three years, and then started working as an editor for a couple of government agencies. I’m in Sri Lanka because my wife was dispatched here for three years. My plan is to do the street photography thing here for that time and then put together High Street Low Street 2.

kB: So you’re not a fugitive then. Why street photography?

DM: In high school and university it was documenting the Toronto Jungle scene. When I moved to Seoul in 2002, I decided to start documenting my surroundings. My photos back then were absolutely terrible, but I kept at it. It gave me something to do during my commutes, walks, nights out, etc.

kB: It’s those walks, nights out and commutes that make a lot of these photos so familiar to people living in Korea. In fact, there’s a big gap between the Korea we see in your photos, and the Korea that Korea wants the world to see. Why do you think this is?

DM: For the most part, Koreans hate my photography. They want Korea to be shiny, perfect, ideal, and glorious. Many think my photos make Korea look poor, dirty, and

I may have twenty good  pictures of people who appear to be sad, but god help me if I ever put those pictures together and call it “The Beauty of Sadness”. - Dayv Matt

uncivilized. I never really understood it, so those very basic reasons will have to suffice. On a more personal note, my wife also didn’t like my photography. She thought the photos were ordinary and boring. I respected her opinion and it never really bothered me. She is, after all, Korean. Now that we’re in Sri Lanka, she’s been showing my book to everyone who comes over for tea, and her opinion of my photography has changed. “Now that we’re here, I really enjoy looking at your book. It really reminds me of home”. Non-Korean readers and Kyopos sometimes email me to say how modern and awesome Korea looks in my photos. Go figure.

kB: But what were you doing wondering around Seoul with a great big camera taking pictures all the time? Do you go everywhere with a camera? Or did you set out to take all these on purpose?

DM: Haha, yes I do go everywhere with my camera. I took around 200-300 photos a day in Seoul; though admittedly most of them get deleted. I shot during my commutes, lunch hours, after work walks, epic Saturday walks, and while out with friends. On days I did decide not to carry my camera, I’d always see amazing shots. That was hard so I tried not to go anywhere without it. When I picked up the D700, the shopkeeper was visibly astonished to see that my D2X had taken well over 300,000 photos.






Want to see more? We’re giving away High Street Low Street to 5 koreaBANG fans!

High Street Low Street represents hours of walking, experiencing, and capturing the daily routine, atmosphere, and excitement of Seoul. From the bustling streets of Myeong-dong and Gangnam station, to neighborhoods off the beaten track, High Street Low Street exposes Seoul, bringing you closer to one of the world’s best cities, and does what most brochures and books do not: provide you real and amazing pictures of a city overlooked by too many for too long.

To win the ebook, and use your iPad/Kindle/stone tablet to view almost 200 more photos like these above, all you have to do is…

Go over to our Facebook page, hit ‘Like’, then message us with the answer to this random question:

Excluding its urban rail lines, how many lines does the Seoul Metropolitan Subway have?

Deadline for entering is midnight KST on Wednesday 12 December. Only one entry per person please, and you must have ‘Liked’ us to be eligble to win (yeah, that’s right, we’re bribing you for your love). You can also follow Dayv Matt on Twitter @chiam and, of course, follow @koreaBANG (on Twitter, please don’t literally follow any of us).

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  • I’m afraid I don’t use Twitter, so I’ll have to literally follow you.

    Enjoy my presence! :)

    • Cool. Please give us constant life updates. But only use 140 characters at a time.

  • Brett

    Gangnam style? You mean that overpriced, overcrowded, ugly, smelly, noisy, place where every middle class person and unemployed college student goes to drink so they can “feel” rich?

    Honestly, the place is always covered with garbage, puke, and piss and the food costs more than it is worth for a crappy dining environment. Why would anyone want to go there, unless they were going for clubs?

    • Observer

      I agree. I lived in Nonhyeon-Dong for a while last year and was not impressed.
      90% of Gangnam is concrete office blocks and is filled with over-worked and grumpy office workers (i was one of them). The other 10%ish are the young Gangnam people.

      There are much more interesting places in Seou otherl than Gangnam

      • Jack

        yah, but “Oppa, Apgu-style” just doesn’t have the same ring to it…

        • Thuan Bui

          오빤 신촌 스타일 FTW
          I lived in 신촌 when I was in Korea ;)

    • Kate

      I didn’t like Gangnam ether but I think Itaewon was my least favorite. My favorite places were outside Seoul, I saw some really neat things like an urn cemetary out in the country, it was really pretty.

  • redgirls

    Great, I love the couple on the scooter

  • mr.wiener

    The land of smiles

  • There is nothing going on in LA or San Francisco either, Its not like people in other countries have grown wings and are flying now. People just live on “hope”. If you live in LA or Switzerland or Paris, at some point in time, it will get you.

    You got to maintain the fakeness and go with the crazy world if you don’t want to be suicidal in big cities. Do not think too much, make money, go with the flow and live a hypocritical life, if you try to be a good guy in a big city, you will never make it.

    That is the message of gangnam style. Be Fake and wear a Mask of lies.

  • bob

    whats with the Chinese flags on picture 6?

    • chucky3176

      2008, Chinese students mass rioted in Seoul during the Beijing Olympic torch relay because they couldn’t stand 24 or so South Korean human rights activists peacefully demonstrating against Chinese human rights violations against North Korean refugees and Tibetans. Tens of thousands of Chinese rioted against Korean police and beat up South Korean citizens who showed any displeasure. Seoul looked like it was over run by the reds that day.

      • lonetrey / Dan

        Wow, I didn’t even know that happened. Thank you for the info, Chucky!

        Dang, looking back on that… not sure how I missed that. Probably because I didn’t watch the Olympics, but still.

      • littleboyd

        It ‘s not just in Seoul, but all the major cities in the world. You can google for chinese riot all around world during Beijing Olympics.

  • chucky3176

    Pictures aren’t half bad, but they’re oversaturated with black color, which gives it a depressing mood. I think that’s what the Koreans you met, really meant when they said, it looked dirty.

    • Observer

      I agree that they’re over exposed, but that’s just to heighten the effect.

      photography like this is often not realistic, but a warped sense of realism, raw and emotional. Every photographer edits their photos. Look at any photo that promotes a location and they are heavily photoshoped to look better. These simply took them in a different direction.

      These images remind me of the EMOTIONS I sometimes had during my time in Gangnam, not what the place actually looked like.

  • BigCAD

    ‘photographer’ read English teacher with a DSLR.

    If you happen to be in Taipei and looking for some real photography please check out Shen Chao-Liang’s work at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Interesting insight to a culture I didn’t even know existed, and presented well.

    • dayvmattt

      Seriously. Taipei is where all the real photography is.

      • BigCAD

        Much preferred your original ‘edgy’ reply before you changed it to the above: “Seriously. Taipei is where all the real photography is”.

        You mistake my point, It’s not about the location where the photography is taken, but the story you tell or the insight you provide. The only thing I learnt from your images is that Chinese mainlanders are just as retarded abroad as they are at home. As to Korea however, your images are just as hollow as those of a young Asian bird cam whoring herself.

        We were subjected to much the same protentious camera work the other week on JapanCrush. What we learnt oddly enough is Japanese don’t enjoy being stuck on trains or having pictures taken of themselves in a compromising situation, as can be seen in the attached image. Anyways, anything in the name of getting shags.

  • Jang

    Gangnam Style LOST, now Grammy Award for Psy hehehehehe

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Oversaturated and Im failing to see the point of most of these photos: Street photography, but where is the decisive moment? Sadly, missing from most of these.

    • Thuan Bui

      Hehe and some photos of the Korean ladies are no doubt going into the “photographer’s” wank bank for future self-indulgence :P

  • lonetrey / Dan

    Nice photos, I’m not complaining. An interesting small corner of Korea shown to me; I’ve never been to Korea other than for a connecting flight to Seattle.

  • Sillian

    Who might be the dead people in the last photo? Democratization activists? Just random artwork?

    • dayvmattt

      They were the folks who died in that fire in Yongsan defending their buildings from redevelopment? I don’t know the whole story.

  • Bawz

    These photos are terrible.

    • dayvmattt


  • dk2020

    Yeah I’m not really feeling this guy’s photography .. he doesn’t really capture human emotion that well which i think make for the best photos, these seem like amateur everyday tourist flicks, where are the pictures that say a thousand words ..

  • KoreanWonders

    First, I’d like to mention that the book is full of way better and stronger pictures than those presented here.Anyway, those individuals making negative comments about the pics probably never took a worthy picture in their whole life. Guys, I can feel your jealousy.
    Nobody is probably ever gonna have an argument over the artistic accomplishment you ever achieved because you know, you should achieve something first. Looking down on people doesn’t make you greater.
    When I read “this looks like tourist pics” well, I’d like to mention that it takes some balls to carry your big camera around and take street pictures that close to people who are total strangers, with a wide angle lens. That’s not your typical “tourist pic”, seriously.
    If you want to see beautiful (boring) landscapes or studio portraits, I am afraid it’s not on offer here. What Dayv did in Korea is capture a sometimes gritty, sometimes dark but always faithful and unfiltered side of Korea, the kind that you don’t see in a travel agency ad, but if you’ve ever lived here, you’ll know this is more Seoul-like than any shiny postcard.
    Honestly, every time I browse through the book, I am amazed. It seems simple, and technically speaking it’s almost never perfect in the academic (boring) sense, yet those pictures are stronger than any photographic work I have seen about Korea.
    Last, those “oversaturated” tones are, you know, on purpose… It’s a choice that adds uniqueness and contributes to and strengthen the pics’ atmosphere, not a mistake.

    • dk2020

      I can take my camera phone and go to skidrow in downtown L.A. and get the same gritty dirty pictures using filters on Instagram.. a couple of my friends are professional photographers and they take way better pictures then these. A great photo should be thought provoking but I guess this will be interesting to your target audience other expats. No place looks like a postcard except the Nordic countries of course ..

      • KoreanWonders

        Well, I’d suggest you take a deeper look at Dayv’s work then. Like I said in the previous comment, the pics here are honestly not his best. The ones on his blogs and his books are way better imho.

        • dk2020

          I see, maybe I am being a bit harsh .. graff artists that I grew up with are mean critics they would do more then just cross out toys they thought were whack ,,

  • Yohan

    Cool he got a photo of the famous Hongdae makgeollin ajeossi. :)

  • dk2020

    Heres some real street art by Korean American David Choe ..

    • KoreanWonders

      Sorry but you meant street trashing, right? It’s awfully bad visually and the guy has obviously nothing to say but “I just do shit cuz I wanna do shit”. That’s your definition of thought-provoking? Indeed I want to facepalm to death.
      Edit: and BTW, I know he’s a famous artist, but this video doesn’t really show him under his best light.

      • dk2020

        LOL different strokes for different folks .. you know David Choe is a millionaire off a piece he did for facebook. I have a couple graff artists friends that were taggers back in the day and are now street artists, all city bombing
        Banksy vs Robo in the UK.. I vote for Team Robo!

        • KoreanWonders

          Yeah, I know about Choe, and he could be a billionaire that it wouldn’t change a thing to his “art”. After all, Van Gogh was poor all his life. I respect the good stuff and I despise the bad but I don’t base my judgement on how many bucks an artist makes. I just have no respect for people who trash other’s property. I find well-made graffiti great but illegal tags that seem to degrade the place rather than improve it I just can’t accept as art.
          I watched the whole documentary, it was great, thanks for the link (sincerely). I couldn’t pick a side, however. I don’t find anything cool in tagging a train or vandalism in general, and I’d rather have a Banksy-style painting on the wall of my house rather than Robbo’s graff (although he did do a pretty good job with that portrait of Zoe Kravitz; which makes me wonder why he didn’t do more stuff like that to begin with). Yet I don’t like Banksy’s way of stealing Blek’s signature technique.

  • Observer

    Slightly off topic, but related to “Gangnam Style”, the inspiration for this page.

    Psy has just apologised for taking part in an Anti-American protest a few years ago. Now bare in mind that this comment is not about Psy (as his opinions may have changed by now, or is just irrelevant), but is an analysis on the KOREAN MEDIA

    “Psy performed a song that described killing “Yankees” who had tortured Iraqi prisoners and killing their families “slowly and painfully”. BBC News, 2012

    Korean media is obsessed with the promotion of the Korean wave and Psy is now the flag barer. He topped every imaginably chart, broken countless record and is known by what seams like half the planet. he really has been the “man of the hour” for the past couple of months. As a result, he is mentioned in 94 articles on the online newspaper Chosun Ilbo”

    Considering how big he is, you can imagine the amount of background checks the media have done on him. the media always wants to know every bit of info about the current celeb.

    how come this was not reported earlier He’s a “pop sensation” and has introduced Korean culture to the world (in particular, America). Surely this would have been big new; “Korean pop ambassador to America hates Americans” (this is how western media would have reported it, exaggeration things as usual)

    now I don;t want to sound like a conspiracy nut, but could it be that releasing this information by the Korean media was postponed as it could have badly affected Psy’s image internationally. The media has a habit of exaggeration or self-promotion (usually exaggerations and stereotyping of foreigners in Korea.

    I’m just wondering, has the Korean media to some degree been self-censoring so that the spread of “Korean Wave” was not tainted?

    Again, this is not an attack, but an observation that it took a conspicuously long time for this rather surprising news to break. It’s an observation of the Media, not on the genre, the country (which i love) or Psy (although I ‘m expecting my first “down votes” for this comment by some die-hard fans)

  • skippy

    I don’t care about anything else but…..MAEKOLI GUY!!!!!! god i miss him so much… ding ding ding ding


    i want to see the pics that these trolls take ! fuck these guys, i love Dayvmattt’s photography !

  • SlickRoetheRULER

    back alleys of Kunsan and Jeounju have some of the most impressive graffiti pices….your welcome!

    • exink

      Thanks for the tip, I’ll have a look someday

  • exink

    Comments are divided about the photos. Art is always, each to their own


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