Michael Vince Kim was born in Los Angeles, CA to Korean parents, but relocated to Argentina at a young age. He studied Film Directing at Fundación Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires and holds an MA Honours in Linguistics from The University of Edinburgh. He later went on to receive an MA in Documentary Photography from the London College of Communication.
His work concentrates on issues of migration and identity with a focus on the Korean diaspora in post-Soviet states and Latin America. He is the recipient of the Magnum ‘30 Under 30’ Award and the 1st prize in the People Stories category of the World Press Photo 2017 Contest.
2017 - World Press Photo, 2016 - Magnum Photography Awards, 2016 - Royal Photographic Society Postgraduate Bursary, 2016 - Viewfind Visual Storytelling Grant, 2015 - Magnum Photos ‘30 Under 30’
In 1905, around 1,000 Koreans arrived in Mexico aboard the SS Ilford. They had departed an impoverished country falling under the crutches of the Japanese Empire, and were promised future prosperity in a paradisiac land. However, once they arrived in Yucatan, they were sold off as indentured servants.
They were set to work in henequen plantations under harsh conditions, harvesting an agave known as Yucatan's green gold. They worked side-by-side with local Mayans, often learning the Mayan language in preference to the Spanish of their masters, and many went on to marry local Mayans.
By the time their contract ended in 1910, Korea had already been incorporated into the Japanese Empire. With no homeland to return to, they decided to stay in Mexico. Some went on to seek work elsewhere in Mexico and in Cuba.
In this photo: Young Korean-Mayans play around in the pool at the 90th birthday party of a second-generation relative. Merida, Mexico. 2016.
The coastal town of Progreso, where Korean immigrants first arrived on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, in 1905. Progreso, Mexico. 2016.
Swimming lessons on the beach at Matanzas, Cuba, home to a large community of descendants of early 20th-century Korean immigrants. Matanzas, Cuba. 2016.