University of Arizona journalism professor Kim Newton felt like a rock star after presenting new South Korean President Moon Jae-in a framed photo that Newton took 30 years ago during the country’s democracy movement.
In a ceremony marking the uprising in downtown Seoul on June 10, Newton gave the president a signed copy of the image and a letter explaining the July 1987 photo. The image shows two students mourning the loss of their classmate, Lee Han-yeol, killed during the student movement the month before. The uprising led to the fall of the government and South Korea’s first free democratic elections.
Newton, 64, said thousands attended the June 10 outdoor rally at a park.
"This old-guy photographer at the end of his life has been revived," he joked. "After the ceremony, kids came up to me and all wanted selfies and autographs."
One of the students in the 1987 photo, Woo Sang-ho, is now an assemblyman and helped arrange Newton’s meeting with Moon after filmmaker Kim Man-jin, who is doing a documentary on the uprising, invited Newton to South Korea for a second time this year.
Moon thanked Newton and called the photograph "very historic." Later, the leader also shared the meeting on his official Facebook page.
“For 30 years, I have followed South Korean politics and was always proud of the small role I played as an international photojournalist in the birth of this young democracy,” Newton told Moon in the letter.
Newton was a freelance photojournalist based in Tokyo and Seoul from 1982 to 1990 for U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, Forbes, Business Week, People, Time, Le Fiagaro and others. Now an associate professor of practice in journalism, Newton has been at UA since 2007 after working as a photo editor for Reuters in London and for Knight Ridder/Tribune in Washington, D.C.
• Read full story, which was picked up by UANews.
• Hear a radio interview with Newton on tbs eFM in Seoul, South Korea
• See President Moon Jae-in's Facebook post about Newton.
• South Korean Kyunghyang newspaper article on Newton (translated into English)
• Other South Korean press