By Kenna Caprio
Ajung “Ribbon” Kim takes intimate portraits of everyday moments, showing the brutal and the beautiful in equal measure.
She’s especially drawn to faces. “There’s strong, powerful energy in my photos,” says Kim, BA’17 (Van).
She often looks at life through a camera lens.
In 2017, she traveled to the Yucatán in Mexico, and in 2019, to Cuba. “All these photos were one-shot, one-shutter clicks, as I was strolling the streets; I didn’t ask the subjects to look at the camera or to pose. I love making eye contact with a subject and connecting without saying a word.”
Within the past few years, Kim has started working in a different medium: video. “It’s more dynamic and offers multiple dimensions to a story,” she says. Kim uses her Canon 5D to create a “raw and organic” aesthetic. She’s used the same camera for both photo and video for five years.
Kim thinks a lot about how societies and cultures are born and built. She cares about history. That’s evident in her work.
While in Mexico and Cuba, Kim worked on documentaries focusing on the lives of Korean expatriates, their descendants and the Korean communities in both countries. “Yo Soy Coreana,” her Mexican-Korean film, screened at the Korean International Expat Film Festival in 2018.
“I’m trying to genuinely document,” she says, “and to show diversity and respect.”
Kim, born in Busan, South Korea, moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 2011 and studied business and international relations at FDU’s campus in the city. In 2014, the Vancouver Campus hosted a one-day photography show, “The Path to the Truth,” featuring peace-themed digital and print photographs by Kim.
Prior to attending college, Kim worked abroad for nongovernmental organizations from 2008–2010 in India, China and the Philippines.
“After travel, I come back to Vancouver and smell the fresh air. The nature is amazing! It’s a very slow, but modern life. It gives me my own time,” says Kim. She uses that time to be creative, to spread joy and to reflect positivity and real life.
Ed. note: A version of this article first appeared in the Fall 2019 edition of FDU Magazine.