Korean Photographer Documents Paul McCartney's Late-Life Tours

      May 15, 2020 09:19

      Pop icon Paul McCartney still tours the world at the age of 78, and for over a decade he has been shadowed by Korean photographer Kim Myung-joong (48).

      Kim has been accompanying McCartney on his world tours since 2008. But when he took time out recently snapping skilled craftsmen in the traditional Eulji-ro neighborhood in central Seoul, he found himself trapped by the coronavirus lockdown.

      Fortunately perhaps, McCartney's world tour has also been put on hold, so for now Kim is not missing out.

      "I've lived in search of interesting things to do and that led to a meeting with Paul," Kim recalled. After failing to land a university place here, Kim, who was always drawn to glamour, turned to part-time work at fashion shows.

      Kim Myung-joong (left) with his family and Paul McCartney (center) when McCartney was on tour in Korea in April 2015.

      At the age of 23 he packed a bag and flew to the U.K. to study broadcast and film at a university there and minored in photography. Then the Asian financial crisis struck and his parents became unable to send him money, so he had to look for a job, eventually landed a position with the Press Association.

      But not soon after he scored a coveted job with Getty Images, only to quit in 2007 to become a freelance photographer. "The pay and perks were good, but I lost interest due to the repetitive routine," Kim said. "A few months after quitting, I got a chance to work with the Spice Girls, and that led to a meeting with Paul McCartney."

      Kim has also photographed Johnny Depp, Natalie Portman, Jon Bon Jovi and Madonna.

      But McCartney remains his favorite. Kim described him as a "warm and friendly corporate CEO." "He inspires me every time he shakes the hands of every staff member after his concerts," he said. But accompanying the star on his concert tours lost some of its luster after two or three years. "One day, Paul called me over and said, 'Your photographs don't excite me any more. What do you think?'," Kim recalled.

      "Photographers all over the world want to work with him and he gave me another chance. I'm so grateful to him for his understanding and try my best to capture every moment," he added.

      Recently Kim turned his hand to movie directing. His short film, "Juicy Girl," about a bar hostess who is murdered near a U.S. military base in Dongducheon north of Seoul was named best film, male director, drama short and crime short for the month of April by the Independent Short Awards in Los Angeles.

      "I don't feel excited any more simply by pressing the button," he said. "But I enjoy meeting a wide range of people up close, and I intend to use photography and film-making to keep making that possible." 

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