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Check Out Won Jin Choi’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Won Jin Choi.

Hi Jin, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
My story starts from a young age. The oldest of 2 sons, my grandmother was a considerable influence in my life, teaching me to respect my culture. Being raised mostly by my grandmother in the countryside outside the bustling city of Daegu, South Korea, gave me a deep appreciation of nature and all of her beauty. That’s when my love for photography began to blossom.

My father ran a crane business and my stay-at-home mother worked our countryside orchard part-time while raising my younger brother. My father worked hard to support us and give us a comfortable life. We weren’t wealthy, but we were all happy with what we had. One day, my father surprised us all by bringing home a new Samsung hi-fi stereo system.

At the time, I was venturing into American music and took this opportunity to listen to a Michael Bolton album. I was amazed at how the music moved me so deeply, all without understanding a single lyric. This began my journey into learning English and my fascination with American culture. It was an American drama called ‘Renegade’, that began my yearning to travel to America and explore the rural areas. It was the first time I thought of using my love for photography together with travel.

As the oldest son, I had a lot of responsibilities, and one of those was looking after my younger brother. When my father’s business started failing, I was forced to drop out of college and join the military to help provide for my family. I had to put my dreams of travel and photography behind me. While serving in the military, I would take any opportunity I had to travel to parts of Korea, all while trying to fill a void. Today, when I recall those memories, It still feels so bleak. After serving 8 years, I was discharged and began helping my father rebuild his crane business. It was after a near-fatal crane accident when I saw my life flash before my eyes, that I decided to go after my dreams again.

By fate, it seemed, I met an American woman who moved to Korea to become a school teacher. We fell in love and got married and had 2 children. She was a photojournalist who had lost her passion for photography and decided to change careers. It was then I realized I had to go after my dreams of being a photographer and traveling the world. But, as it seems, fate had different plans for me. Now a father with even more responsibilities, and a wife who didn’t like me fooling around with a camera, though I needed to grow up and stay working in the 9 to 5 office environment. As the days and years went by, my life became a blur and alongside that my dreams all faded away.

It was by chance that I met another American woman, Skye, after a bitter divorce, that I realized I needed to do more in pursuing my dreams. I had ventured off to America to start my healing process, far away from all the things that reminded me of my failed marriage. What I thought would be the start to my long faded dreams of traveling, turned into something so much more. Skye encouraged me to go after a new career in photography, after seeing a photo on my social media that moved her to tears.

She reached out to me and asked what the story was behind the photo. I explained to her that the photo represented the saddest day of my life. I had taken a drive and parked on top of a hillside on the outskirts of Daegu city. I was looking outside my window as the rain came pouring down and thinking to myself, what a failure I was. I had lost my family because of divorce, my parents were ashamed of me, and I felt like I had lost the right to dream. She thought otherwise and told me I needed to pick myself up off the ground and start over.

So my journey started with a fresh new outlook on life and a goal. I had never set a goal for myself before, and the thought of reaching it made my heart race. While in Texas, I finally decided it was time for me to start taking photography seriously. I purchased a used Nikon camera and started exploring small towns. It ignited my passion again and I met so many wonderful people with interesting stories. It was about this time that I started missing my family and children. Now it was time for me to go back to my hometown and face my issues head-on. Something I had ignored for way too long, my family and children.

Once I arrived back in Daegu, things were really tough. I had amends to make with my parents and brother. I had to get to know my 2 young girls again and earn their trust. I had to work to make ends meet, all while trying to fulfill my dreams of being a photographer and traveling. After I settled in I felt my journey was on track. I worked hard and traveled on weekends with my 2 girls to places all over South Korea. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with them and explore little towns and expose them, along with other travelers, to the beauty of my home country.

Every day, I continue to learn more about the art of photography. Along with my travels thus far I have met some interesting people with wonderful life stories. I know now, this is my career path and one I will never let go of again. This, as it turns out, has always been my lifelong passion. I hope to share the memories that I’ve captured for many years to come. Maybe one of my photos will be enough to ignite a passion in the heart of someone and will start their journey to realizing their dreams.

This is the goal I will continue to pursue for many years to come.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Finding my way to photography was a long road to discovery. Every time I found myself going down that path, I would run into some kind of obstacle that would prevent me from realizing my dream. Eventually, I overcame those stumbling blocks to get where I am today.

My journey has been long, and my new career path has been short. But this is what I intend to do for the rest of my days. I’m going to focus all my energy on photography and travel and share all my memories and hope that I can inspire people.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Currently, I’m focusing on travel photography.

I specialized in landscape photography. I’m known for showing the beauty, history, and culture of South Korea through my lens. I’m proud of the fact that I finally chose to make photography my career choice after many obstacles that I encountered and overcame.

I’m not like traditional Korean photographers. I focus more on the beauty of South Korea as a whole, including landscapes, food, culture, history, and lifestyle. I also have highlighted my travels from America, showing the beauty of that country as well.

Eventually, I will travel the world and show people my view of the world told from my perspective through the lens of my camera.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you, or support you?
To work with me, go to jinchoiphotography.com and request my photography services brochure. To collaborate with me, reach out via email at jinchoiphoto@gmail.com.

To support me, please purchase any of my prints via my site, DM on IG, or email me directly.

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