Defining himself as a “location independent entrepreneur” Jacob Laukaitis has spent the past four years traveling around the globe and documenting his experiences on YouTube. Last year, during a 7-day guided trip to North Korea, which he calls “the weirdest country I’ve ever visited,” he vowed to return to South Korea in order to understand how the divide has influenced both countries.
The differences he discovered are heartbreaking and profound. In his newest video, Laukaitis discusses just how much Korea has changed from north to south in just a few generations. Moving across South Korea, from Seoul and into the countryside, he can’t help but notice the striking differences in freedom and lifestyle. “In the South, people could freely express themselves in absolutely any way they wished, whereas in the North everyone was part of some big group, where they dressed the same, looked the same and acted the same,” Luakaitis shares with us via email.
During his time in South Korea, the travel enthusiast was able to spend time with a man who was born and raised in North Korea, but managed to escape the country 10 years ago. He worked for 3 years on a farm in China before paying off the debt to the smugglers who helped him leave and get his documents together in order to move to South Korea. It’s experiences like this, along with Laukaitis’ visit to an amusement park just kilometers from the North Korean border, that make his short film documenting the experience a cut above the rest.
While many photographers visit North Korea and document their guided tours, few projects paint the side by side picture that Laukaitis does. Through his photography and video, he forces us to ask further questions and realize just how much a political divide can rip apart one culture in a short time.
Jacob Laukaitis traveled to North Korea on a strictly guided 7-day tour. One year later, he visited South Korea in order to better understand how the divided country has evolved since it was separated a little over 60 years ago.
Using photographs to compare daily life in North and South Korea paints a striking picture of just how different this once unified country has become.
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Jacob Laukaitis.
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