On the cover of photographer Emanuel Hahn’s new book, Koreatown Dreaming, there’s a soulful photo of a man casually standing in front of a fruit truck. Surrounded by tangerines, strawberries, and mangoes, his demeanor is serene and proud at once, and his name is Sung Rae Yang, one of the many immigrants Hahn sought to honor in a new anthology of photographs and stories spotlighting Korean business owners across the US, published by Hachette Book Group and now available for purchase.
A Korean third-culture kid, Hahn grew up between Singapore and Cambodia, and never imagined he’d become a professional photographer. “I just never thought a career in the arts was possible for me,” he recently told W. Instead, Hahn moved to the US at the age of twenty, studied economics at NYU, and, shortly after, got a job in tech.
Entirely self-taught, now and then, Hahn would shoot wedding photos or portraits for friends, but it wasn’t until eight years ago, when he paid off his student loans, that he decided to try his luck as a full-time photographer.
“Photography gave me a tool not just to observe but to document. To share how I saw the world and what I thought was interesting,” Hahn said. “I just wanted to follow stories that I cared about.”
Utterly fascinated by diasporic experiences in the United States, Hahn has completed three photo series on the subject: The Mississippi Delta Chinese Project, The Korean-Uzbeks of Brooklyn project, and the forenamed Koreatown Dreaming. Later this year, during his artistic residency at New Wave in West Palm Beach, he’s set to complete America Fever, a fourth series that seeks to build on his body of work by delving into themes of cultural identity, history, and migration.
Hahn’s distinct proximity to his subjects and ability to honor the unique story of each sitter is tangible on every page of Koreatown Dreaming.
I don’t know what the future holds for Koreans in America,” Hahn writes in the book‘s introduction, “but in our communal seeking—for identity, for each other, for a place to call home—I feel I have found my people. I feel like I belong here.”
Below, a selection of photos from Koreatown Dreaming, with insights by Hanh.
As a journalist, Cathy Owens has always been interested in writing about the business world. She aims to keep her readers up-to-date on current events and trends in the business world, without sacrificing the journalistic integrity that made her want to be a writer in the first place.