[T]he image of a soldier had been strongly imprinted on my mind, like the icon of a real man, a father with a tough spirit. But it was impossible to find that kind of person when I joined the army. ‘A private’ was treated as a mere child only because he had just enrolled. He was accompanied by any superior to the shower room or the bathroom. Soldiers were different to what I expected which made me doubt their loyalty and ability to devote their lives during war. After military service my two brothers entered the army. I felt sorry for them, having to face everything I had done in service.
My opinion of soldiers changed from being brave and sturdy men to insignificant members of society. When any son, whoever he is or whatever he did before enrolment, puts on a military uniform, he should experience depersonalization in the army, lose his personality. I tried to take pictures of them in this ironic situation. They didn’t move even an inch when I worked. It occurred to me that I was taking picture of the dead who had already lost their existence.
(Jae-gu Kang | A Private, PRIVATE 52, pages 60-61)