Chulsoo and Younghee are central characters from popular illustrated Korean children’s books. Much like Jack and Jill for readers of English, these two are well known in Korea, and typically appear engaged in routine daily activities such as playing with their pets or attending school.
For his series The Text Book (Chulsoo & Younghee), Suk Kuhn Oh employed the two figures in a conceptual exploration of personal traumas experienced by fellow Koreans, particularly those remembered from childhood. To do so, he fabricated large doll-like masks of Chulsoo and Younghee and posed his subjects wearing them – including himself – in dramatic re-enactments of their own vivid memories.
Oh’s color images are simultaneously biographical and anonymous. He describes his Chulsoo and Younghee stagings as confessional; they are attempts to reconcile seemingly idyllic public lives with painful private experience. “We may not exactly decipher their actions or feelings, but we can remember parallel moments in our own lives of hurt, embarrassment, shame, or other mortifications.”
Suk Kuhn Oh was born in Inchon, South Korea. After serving as a photographer in the Korean army, he received a degree in photography from the School of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent University in England. His work has been exhibited in the UK, South Korea, Australia, and the US, and is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Ilmin Museum, Seoul.