Surfing and shooting Korea’s natural and unnatural waves with Moon-Ho Jung

Shortly before Wave Park South Korea opened and Wavegarden had a tight lid on all digital assets, we discovered a trove of wonderfully stripped-down clips by Moon Ho Jung that showcased the wave’s potential. What we soon realized is that Korea has a core surfing scene. It’s one that went from just a handful of core participants to having overrun surf breaks in just 10 years’ time. Yes, in Korea everyone is surfing. Moon Ho Jung is in the right place at the right time, documenting this pulsing neoprene tempest.

When Wave Park opened it became a hub for surfers like Jina Kim and all the peninsula’s surfers – Wave Park is just Moon-Ho acting under the business name Watermelon Surf Photographer captures the scene both at Wave Park and on the beaches.

Surfing in South Korea
Moon Ho says that surfers who come to Wave Park from any of Korea’s many surfing beaches, show up to focus on improving. Photo Moon Ho Jung

What is your photography background?

I visited many countries to become good at skateboarding and snowboarding, maybe earlier than other Koreans. In Korea, there are many beautiful surfing spots around the country and I wanted to capture that imagery in my photography. Also, I wanted surfers from other countries to know that Korea has some good surf spots. When I started there wasn’t much information, so I had to learn by going to different locations and reading the swell, waves and currents. I think as Korean surfers become better in their craft, so will my photography.

Tell us a little about surfing in South Korea.

Korea is a peninsula and the driving distance from Seoul is only 3-to-5 hours for beautiful surfing locales. However, the history of surfing in Korea is not long. People have only been into surfing for about 10 years, but I think surfers in Korea have made huge advancements in such a short time from tireless attempts and striving to become better surfers. Surfing today is quickly becoming a mainstream sport. The younger surfers in Korea will become world-class soon, I believe. And in the center of it all, WavePark will be a destination for surfers to keep practicing and help improve their skills.

Surfing in South Korea
Korea’s a peninsula, so there’s waves all around, but the quality of those waves isn’t always the best. Korean surfers have learned to make the most of what the sea offers. Photo by Moon-Ho Jung.

How did you start shooting photos at Wave Park? Is it full-time?

There aren’t many photographers that specialize in surfing, so I get a lot of requests whenever there are competitions. I still do some freelance work.

What is the vibe like at Wave Park – super serious or playful?

There are two types of surfers at Wave Park. There are the surfers that visit the park to keep improving and there are ones that are surfing for the first time. The beginners are very serious about learning how to surf, but they end up having a lot of fun too.

What is the best thing about Wave Park?

Wave Park is a type of facility that has never existed in Korea, where people experience new skills and practice, so it’s really nice. I think it would be even better if surfers from overseas came to visit Wave Park and share their knowledge and expertise. I think I can take much better photos if that happened.

Surfing in South Korea
South Korea’s skylines and points of urbanization create a great setting for moody black and white. Photo by Moon-Ho Jung.

What is the worst thing about Wave Park?

After Wave Park opened, the number of surfers going to the beaches is declining. As a photographer, I admit that the photos taken at Wave Park often look better than ones from the actual ocean.

Share with us something most people don’t know about Wave Park.

Wave Park Korea is located very close to Seoul. There is a full-on water park at the facility, so you can enjoy lots of different experiences. If you think you can surf a little bit, I think you can become a star at Wave Park. Please come surf at Wave Park.

You can follow more of Moon-Ho’s work here on Instagram…

Surfing in South Korea
It’s a nice office to go to when you’re not at the beach or in the mountains. Photo by Moon-Ho Jung.