Portraits Around the World: Life on my Street

Every week I tell the story behind a photograph featuring the portrait of a person that made me think. Sometimes they’re about capturing a feeling, other times they’re about the story the photograph tells. To see more Portraits Around the World, click here.

My the street in South Korea… and one of the older Ajushis who walks my street every morning picking up leftover recyclables.

This is the first Portraits Around the World picture I’ve taken on my iPhone (so excuse the bit of blur)! I was walking to work last week and I couldn’t stop but capture the moment as this man, so focused on his task, carted with wheelbarrow with his findings. I can’t even imagine how much time it took for him to collect so much cardboard.

I can’t say I’m expert on the subject, but according to the International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, Vol. 4, No. 3 published in May 2014, “The OECD reports that South Korea has the highest rate of elderly poverty, with almost half of its citizens at the of 65 or more living in relative poverty.”

This man makes me want to wake up and work hard for what I have every day.

Portraits Around the World

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  1. That looks like hard work! Good timing on the shot! Do you know if the elderly poverty rates are related to a lack of government assistance or is it something else? I had the impression that the elderly often lived with their adult children, but is that not the case?

    • June 25, 2015


      I definitely think it’s related to a lack of assistance and programs for the elderly. Your impression isn’t off, but with every new year I think that truth is starting to shift and that’s why it’s becoming a big problem. Younger generations aren’t sticking to tradition as much as they used to, and the government isn’t doing anything to evolve with time.

  2. June 15, 2015

    Nice picture, and don’t mind the blur. It kind of adds to it, in my opinion.

    For me, I get inspired when walking past a market in our neighborhood that’s full of older folks (poor like you mention). I see them huddled on the ground in uncomfortable postures hoping for a good day and good weather for sales and it really puts my life into perspective.

    My life is so much easier in many ways, but I wonder if they too are happy and feel fulfilled from the work they put into the earth. They are truly giving and taking from the earth and sometimes as I see them, I’m quite envious.

    On a side note, there was an interesting vice episode (and BBC article) about elderly poor in Korea and the extremes they go to in order to get out of it. Most cases stay poor and it’s quite a sad commentary that goes largely unmentioned in our image-free home for now.

    Anyway, I’ll leave the book writing comments to someone else because I’m sure they’re waiting to leave their thoughts as well.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post, Neysha.

    Take Care.

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