Read the full interview - that VICE never published - with Dayv Mattt, a street photographer currently living in Sri Lanka (and before in Seoul). As another ex-Torontonian currently living in another corner of the world (Sao Paulo in my case), I totally connect with this particular response:
Q- Why is Korea trying to hide its ugly side?
I have to generalize to answer this question, but Koreans can’t understand why I would want to walk down a narrow ally in an old neighborhood to take photos. They want me walking through the newly erected areas and they want me to highlight all things shiny, sparkling and glamorous. I don’t actually think I am taking pictures of an “ugly side”. I do walk through shiny areas, but to get from one shiny area to the next, I inevitably walk through an older area that hasn’t gone through gentrification, or is in the process of gentrification. They don’t want me in those areas because development is often messy business and a lot of people don’t want those issues coming to light. Generally speaking, Koreans think my photos make Korea look dirty, poor, and depressing. Their impression of my photos is the complete opposite of what people outside Korea think my photos are showing them of Seoul.
But you should check out the full interview, if was conducted by VICE, but never got published because reasons:
The interview was a bit of email back-and-forth and a Skype conversation. To be fair, the dude who interviewed me was a freelance dude just doing his job. He genuinely appreciated my photography and was doing his best to get the interview up, but all his editor wanted was “Korean crime, grime and that shit”. In the end I just said that I didn’t see my photography as being negative, and for the editor to want me to gripe about crime/dirt/etc regarding Korea was a bit much for me. I just don’t see Seoul as a place like that. And to be honest, I have had to argue with Koreans enough about how my photography isn’t highlighting a negative side of Seoul that for his editor to want me to do it was kind of dickish. He understood and that was that.