Urban exploration in Korea with Nikon D7000 and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

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Urban Exploring in Korea 11
In this guest post Jackson Hung describes his documentary project on urban exploration in Korea he did two years ago with a Nikon D7000 camera and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens:

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Somewhere in central Korea, stands a massive complex which consists of 14 half built “abandoned” apartments. They used to be known as the “Yuseong Sola Apartments(유성소라아파트).” The original developer for this project was “Hanguk Property Trust(한국부동산신탁(주)).” From the information that is posted on what used to be the construction gate, work commenced some time in 2007.

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The average height of the apartment buildings ranges from 12 to 14 stories, depending on the building. It is visible when one is taking an arterial road which is separated by large rice fields and to what seems to be an old unused airstrip. Being curious about the apartments, my friend and I set off on our own little urban exploration.

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We ventured into two buildings that were accessible from a small road. The amount of space that the complex occupies is immense, with the longer buildings being able to take up an entire city block.

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From what we observed, with the amount of construction equipment, bricks and mortar that were placed in each floor, it seems as though the construction workers simply just got up and left. Even the molds that are used to construct each floor hang precariously on the last floor that they constructed.

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We managed to climb up to the twelfth floor, with the thirteenth and the “rooftop” being blocked off with ruble and construction equipment.

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There was an eerie emptiness while we were exploring though the floors of the apartments. In this massive complex were only two people, wandering around to see what they could find. What could have been a thriving community, filled with the sound of laughter and joy, with children playing in the courtyards, and families taking their evening stroll down to the beach to enjoy the sunset; this wonderful “could have been” scenery has all but reduced to bare, cold, and emotionless walls containing nothing but empty space and overgrown vegetation.

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During the exploration, I was deeply obsessed with one question; why did they stop construction? Once I processed the photos, I did a brief search on the internet but interestingly, no information could be found. The only thing which I could do was to ask colleagues at work if they knew anything about these apartments.

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Surprisingly, only one person knew something about it. According to what she knew, the original contractor, “Yuseong Construction Industry (유성건설산업(주))” went bankrupt some time in 2008. The project was bought up by another company but for some reason, work never really continued.

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Aerial photos from 2008 indicates that construction already come to halt with the lack of construction vehicles on the site. In the 2009 aerial photo, one can observe that Mother Nature has slowly taken over the empty spaces between each apartment complex.

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As of today, the whole site is still considered “under construction” but with the absence of construction workers and the large scale of vegetation that has taken over then construction site, it seems as though the complex will never be finished.

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  • Maji

    The developer may have just gone under or some legal problems cropped up that stopped the whole project. There is another unfinished multi-storied monstrosity located near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. It is just one building not a cluster like this one.

    I like the B&W versions, kind of expresses a stark cold feeling of the empty place.

  • BrainBeat

    The lines look very strait for such a wide lens unless you have corrected for that. If not it would seem to be a very nice wide lens to use and looking at local pricing it is not crazy expensive too.
    I wonder how it would go on a 24MP body?

    • Jackson

      Hello. I did put the photos through lens correction in lightroom. The tokina (1st gen) was my favorite lens which hardly came off my D7000. If you’re still using a crop sensor camera, I personally think the Tokina is one of the best wide angle lenses for price and image quality for APS-C.

    • Michael_Foley

      I shoot with a D7000 and the Tokina 11-16 2.8. There is almost no distortion, but just a little. These images were probably corrected for distortion.

    • David Portass

      I hired this lens for a music festival I was working in the summer primarily for my D7000 but also tried it on my D600 and loved it, so much so that I very nearly purchased the Tokina 16-28 but when a used Nikon 17-35 came up for sale from a local tog I know for about the same price I jumped on that.

      Distortion wise I didn’t correct a lot of them because they were mostly people shots and doing so made them look less natural than when I originally captured them but for some of the landscapes I did apply correction

  • Geomet

    The Tokina 11-16 2.8 is an amazing wide angle… I used it on my d7000 and now use it at 16 on FX sensor.. love this lens… yes lines are straight!!

    • Guest

      Do you get any obstruction/vignetting effect at 16mm on the FX ??

      I use my Tokina 12-24 at 18.5mm on my D700 to get a full picture .

      • Jackson

        There’s a bit of vignetting at 16mm and the corners are really soft on fx

  • SpartanZero

    Thank you for posting!!!! Love these sorts of images – just goes to show that on a planet suffering from overcrowding, you can still find somewhere completely deserted and isolated.
    Great shots Jackson!
    P.S. I also have the Tokina 11-16 2.8 – and love it. Great lens for DX.

    • Jackson

      Thank you. It was a shame it wasn’t really usable when I upgraded to a D800. 16mm was a tad too wide and there was a lot of distortion and vignetting. I eventually got myself a 17-35mm f/2.8 recently.

      • David Portass

        Same, toyed with getting the Tokina 16-28 but didn’t like lack of filter support and exposed front end so got 17-35.

        I truly believe this along with the Nikkor 35mm 1.8 are the two greatest lenses for Nikon APS-C cameras especially as together they are in the £500-£600 new region. I also have Nikkor 17-55 2.8 which is an awesome versitile professional zoom but tempted to sell for a used 24-70

  • Der arkitekt

    Those are the sons of Le corbusier mind… (domino,citrohan,immeuble villas,obus,unite’ d’habitations etc…)

  • Mansgame

    Man, North Korea looks like a dump. And no color! It’s just depressing. I’m sending my prayers and wishes to the good people of NK and hope they become free some day. Great hardcore reporting. I know this photographer must have risked life and limb to take these obviously hurried pictures in such a hostile country.

    • Eli

      Haha, You’ve mistaken. It’s been shot in Republic of Korea(South) not the North where Communist dictatorship is valid.

      • Mansgame

        So these are just instagram pictures that any 14 year old could get??

        • Can’t Believe It

          If the kid was brave enough and had a good sense of composition. Abandoned construction sites are dangerous because you have no idea what was done properly and what wasn’t. There could be bad concrete, unstable railings railings, walls and subfloors left unfastened, any one of which could send you on a one-way trip downward.

  • Spy Black

    Good thing he shot this stuff before he updated his firmware…

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