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Korean War in Color

Korean War in Color
  • Author : John Rich
  • Publisher : Seoul Selection
  • Pub. Date : May 2010
  • Cover : Hardcover
  • Dimensions (in inches) : 10 x 12 x 1.10
  • Pages : 248
  • ISBN : 9788991913646


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  • Product Description
  • Korean War in Color

    A Correspondent’s Retrospective on a Forgotten War


    For the fact that we can appreciate today renowned war correspondent John Rich’s color photographs of the Korean War, we have a tin-lined Japanese tea chest to thank. “I bought color film, and the professionals were not shooting color film,” explains Rich. “The copiers at home could not handle it, so they shot in black and white. I got in early with color film, and I just shot it for my own [interest]. I’d send them to Kodak, and they’d send back the little yellow envelope with the transparencies, and I’d take a look at them or throw them on the table or something like that. Eventually I had a lot of them, and I put them in a Japanese tea chest.... Well, we took it with us wherever we went for the next I can’t remember how many years, and one day opened it up, and the pictures were perfect. They had not deteriorated at all, even 50 years later.”

    As if it weren’t bad enough that the Korean War is, for many in the West, a “forgotten war” wedged between the larger conflicts of World War II and Vietnam, its legacy has been conveyed largely in the medium of black and white photography, putting up yet another psychological barrier between the conflict and modern day audiences. In Rich’s book “Korean War in Color: A Correspondent’s Retrospective on a Forgotten War,” published by Seoul Selection to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, the renowned war correspondent breaks down this barrier with a jaw-dropping collection of color photographs of the Korean War, perhaps the finest collection of color images of the conflict anywhere. In vivid hues of blue, green and red, Rich’s photographs take the war out of the history books, allowing readers to better connect with a conflict that, while forgotten, continues to impact the lives of Koreans to this day.


    A Forgotten War...in Color

    As you flip through the photographs, it’s the vibrancy that first strikes you. The slides might be over six decades old, but the photographs—sharp and vivid—seem as though they were taken yesterday, a fact made all the more remarkable by the fact that Rich was not a professional photographer. Skies are a cobalt blue, Korean mountainsides verdant green, and cannon fire a dramatic orange. Every face, every landscape jumps off the page. For the contemporary viewer, the war becomes real, tangible. Rich’s own reminiscences, recounted here and there throughout the book, bring the war alive still further.


    Soldiers and Civilians

    Given Rich’s profession as a war correspondent, it is perhaps unsurprising that many of his photos focus on things military. Military history buffs will appreciate the photographs of Korean War-era tanks, aircraft and warships, brought to you in vivid color. Historical personages like Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Gen. Matthew Ridgway, President Rhee Syngman, and Gen. Paik Sun-yup all make appearances.

    Rich’s photographic interests go beyond the military, however. Ever the keen observer, he and his lens document a nation at war. His photographs are as candid as they are vivid. In one image, a mother and her son smile broadly as they pull past a wagon with a full bag of rice. In another, an elderly Korean gentleman—Confucian top hat and all—poses for a photograph on a city street.

    Marketplaces teem with energy, much as they do today. Villagers stare and laugh as topless American GIs cool off at the village well. A South Korean soldier celebrates the spring by planting a pink flower blossom in his green battle helmet.




    About the Author

    Working with International News Service, the predecessor of UPI, American John Rich spent three years in Korea covering the Korean War, from the outbreak in June 1950 to the armistice in 1953. After the war, he joined broadcaster NBC as a war correspondent, covering Vietnam, African civil wars, and other major 20th century conflicts. In 1991, at the age of 73, he went to the Middle East to cover the first Gulf War.

    Currently retired, he splits his time between Maine and Florida.

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