George Rose photographs of 1904 Korea project

17 October 2014

George Rose, an Australian photographer, visited Korea in 1904. Rose took a number of photographs of everyday life in Korea at that time. These historically-significant images were drawn to the attention of the Australia-Korea Foundation (AKF).

The George Rose photographs of Korea reveal many aspects of Korea's recent history that many may well have forgotten. AKF gained access to the glass negatives of these photographs of Korea and decided it was important to ensure as many Koreans as possible are able see these treasured moments in time.

The Foundation exhibited the George Rose photographs – in Seoul in April 2002 - as part of its 10th Anniversary celebration. Throughout 2003 the AKF toured the photographs all over regional Korea, with the assistance of the National Association of Culture and Arts Centres.

In 2004, with the co-operation of the National Institute of Korean History, Korean photographer Mr Koo Bohn-chang, Mr Ron Blum of Adelaide, and Mr Norman Thorpe of the USA – the AKF produced a high quality book of the George Rose photographs, "1904 Korea through Australian Eyes". The book was co-published by Kyobo Book Centre and the Australia-Korea Foundation.

The following extract from the book by Dr Rodney Hall AM, founding Board member of the AKF, tells us something about the importance of George Rose (1861 – 1942):

"As a photographer, George Rose was an absolute professional. In his long lifetime he achieved an immense output despite the fact that the cameras of the day were large and cumbersome to use – each negative being a separate glass plate.

"The overwhelming mass of his output was of the outdoors. And how adventurous his choices were! For example, Korea at that time was in a war zone.

"It was far more difficult to intervene, so he photographed people and places as he found them. And this is what gives them their special appeal. These photographs are full of life. They are moments in time captured by the camera. And they have all the vitality and spontaneity of truth."

The book 1904 Korea through Australian eyes is a high-quality, hard-cover publication, printed by Korea's leading photographic Munsung Printing Services Company. It comprises 40 images of Korea, with English and Korean text.

For information on how to purchase a copy of the book, please contact the AKF secretariat.

Last Updated: 17 February 2014
Korean market in 1904 Main street of Fusan, Korea in 1904
Two photo's from the George Rose book '1904 Korea through Australian eyes.