Back Stories 1: Crosses

Seoul, South Korea. Sometime in 2008.

I noticed the orange and red lights first while flying into Korea. I remember thinking about Gibson’s Neuromancer. The neon night city  of Chiba and my obtuse vision of what Asia was like.

When the plane was close to touching down I realized what I was looking at were crosses. Equally neon, they littered the skyline. I didn’t really get it. After living in Korea for some time the idea of business and church became more apparent. I’m still not sure I understand and not sure I ever will. I’m often told by my Korean friends that it isn’t something one should try to understand. Maybe that should be the end of it.

I took this photo in a small Seoul district. I was turned away from my regular motel because I arrived late and had nowhere to stay. I spent hours walking. Not entirely different than Gibson’s vision of Japan the night here doesn’t suspend activity. I saw the crosses lining the rooftops as I crossed a bridge that spanned the highway. At the time, I had an old Sony DSLR. My first camera. I wasn’t really into photography like I am now. I can’t quite recall why I even thought to take a picture. I had remembered hearing my father say he would like to see the neon crosses.

Maybe that was why.

I talked the security guard of an old apartment building into letting me on the roof to take the photo. He watched me while I took it and then let me be. Maybe he understood I wanted to just stay a little.

I went back there recently and the building had changed. Things here change fast.

Seoul, South Korea.

Sometime in 2008.


This is going to be the start of a new series of blog posts where I give the backstory of some of my photos. My blog has been stale for some time and I think was in need of something new. If you have a photo of mine you’d like to hear about let me know in the comments.

I hope you like this and the rest of the series.




  1. Great idea, Josh. Brings to life an amazing image. Love the muted, faded tones here. Reminds me of a street on Chicago’s southern Loop, with plenty of Jesus Saves signs and neon crosses there too…

  2. Great back story JT. I never saw the crosses during my brief visit to Seoul. I was there in 1979 during my military service. Perhaps they were added since then. I will return again soon.

  3. Love this photo Josh! Its got a bit of an 80s vibe to it for sure! Would be nice to do a series of the neon crosses with some CineStill 800T film if they are still all around Seoul, would probably come out really nicely.

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