Renowned photographer fined for illegal tree felling

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Jul 14, 2014 - 21:17
  • Updated : Jul 14, 2014 - 21:17
A Korean photographer well known for his pictures of a rare breed of pine trees was recently slapped with a fine for illegally cutting down trees to get better pictures, a local daily reported Monday.

The 71-year-old photographer, surnamed Jang, was ordered to pay a 5 million won ($4,910) fine by the Daegu District Court on May 21 for violating the Forest Protection Act.

He reportedly entered a forest reserve in Uljin-gun, North Gyeongsang Province, three times from 2011 to 2013, and hired local residents to cut down 25 trees.

They included the rare Pinus densiflora forma erecta Uyeki, known here as Geumgangsong, or Korean Red Pine, which were the main subjects of his works. Even a 220-year-old rare pine was felled in the name of art.

Korea’s Forest Protection Act states that one has to get a permit to enter a state-owned forest reserve.

“I went there about five or six times, but I never had to get a permit. I admit that it was an illegal act,” Jang told the media. “I think I should not do it from now on.”

He said that he cut down the trees because he did not get “a good angle on his photographs.” Jang also said his actions were in the best interest of the trees, saying that the 200-year-old tree was blocking another from getting sunlight.

Jang’s works have been displayed in numerous exhibition in Paris, Seoul and Daegu from 2012 to 2014. His photographs were reportedly sold for 4 million won to 5 million won a piece.

Geumgangsong traditionally has been branded a valuable material, due to its form and strength.

During the Joseon era, use of Geumgangsong in the Uljin region was strictly restricted to building palaces or coffins for kings.

By Yoon Min-sik and news reports