A young boy is ushered by his father to stand and pose next to one of the Royal Guards standing at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea. His bright yellow t-shirt reads ‘Smile’ and lends a twist of irony to the picture in which neither the stoney faced guard, or the nervous looking boy is smiling.


I wanted to use this photograph on 366 pictures because it makes me smile. The bright primary colors, the t-shirt, and the expressions on both the boy and the guard, all make for the ingredients of a good picture, however, this isn’t it.

It was the a Korean Thanksgiving back at the start of October when I was in Seoul. Because of this there were a lot of tourists around, and at the palace there was a large crowd around all jostling for position and hurriedly jumping next to the guards to pose for photographs.

I took several photographs of the boy as he stood reluctantly next to the guard who seemed only a little less reluctant to be there himself. But I couldn’t get a good angle. This was the best of a bad bunch, and I discarded it because the father takes up too much of the frame.

The photograph I used on the day was arguably not as interesting, but I liked it because of the shadow and the obvious fake beard worn by all of those South Korean Royal Guards who have been installed purely as a tourist attraction. I suppose that the fake guards should come as no surprise, after all, South Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world where a little fakery is just the way it is.