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Elska, Issue 21 – Seoul Korea

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Elska is a bi-monthly male photography and culture art-zine on 130 pages of beautifully stroke-able matte paper. Each issue is shot in a different city with men from that city, including not only their photographs but their stories too. It’s a sort of cross between a quasi-intellectual queer pin-up and a sort of sexy anthropology journal.

In this issue:

Our twenty-first Elska Magazine issue is our fourth to be made in Asia, where we chose the capital of South Korea for the honour. Seoul is an incredible city, fast-paced and full of trend-setting fashion, a slick music scene, and cutting edge technology. Yet it’s also a city where such modernity does not extend to the society, which is conservative and guided by ‘traditional’ values. It is absolutely not the easiest place to be gay.

Inside this issue you’ll get to know the real Seoul through the experiences of fourteen men from the LGBTQ community who we met during our visit. Each is photographed in a natural, documentary-like style in the city and in their homes, dressed in their own style or sometimes not dressed at all, revealing themselves fully for the readers’ gaze. The honest style of imagery is then paired with personal stories written by each of the men, kept in their original voices and languages (followed by English translations).

Some of the men you’ll meet in Elska Seoul include:

  • Uin L, who details a trip to a traditional bathhouse (a jjimjilbang), told through a lens of uncertainty and self-consciousness;
  • Jay S, who describes the moment when his mother confronts him with the accusation that he is gay;
  • Ivan J, who recounts an afternoon of vegetable-aided masturbation set to the soundtrack of hymnal Bach;
  • Heezy Y, who talks about the difficulties of finding success and happiness in a society so full of expectations and conformity;
  • Jose S-M, who as one of a large number of foreigners living in Seoul reflects upon his seven years living in the city;
  • James K, who speaks of his journey to reconcile how to be a Korean man in his way against the opposing standard of masculinity set by his father.

Features images of / stories from: Jay S, Uin L, Yoon J, Woo Yeah, Myeongjin K, Y.E.S., James K, Seungwook Y, Nahwan J, Ivan J, Eunho C, Heezy Y, Jose S-M, Jamin P.


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