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For The Best Days, photographer Yang Seung Woo returns from Japan to his hometown in South Korea, documenting his boyhood friends while reconnecting with the wonder and the trauma that shaped his young adulthood. By photographing the camaraderie shared between his surviving friends, Mr. Yang traces the memory of a close high school friend who tragically hanged himself after being convicted of murder, sent to prison, and becoming a flunky for the organized crime group Yakuza.

Though he was never a member of Yakuza, Mr. Yang’s teenage years were characterized in part by fights with other boys and a fierce sense of loyalty shared between friends. Since then, Mr. Yang has moved to Japan to pursue his photography, but he still makes frequent trips home to see his old friends, many of whom have since built careers in real estate, banking, and night clubs.

Though the men featured The Best Days are now grown, and although many of the pictures contain adult themes, the images are also permeated with a wistful sense of boyhood innocence. In black and white, these moments, ranging from the clandestine to the everyday, occupy a space of reminiscence and yearning for what is lost. Amidst the burst of energy fueled by late night drinks, we find men sleeping, huddled like boys. Always, the memory of the fallen friend casts a melancholy veil over the scene, and the present moment is relegated to the realm of an irretrievable past. The Best Days is available through Zen Foto Books.

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All images © Yang Seung Woo, Zen Foto Gallery

via Invisible Photographer

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