In this bustling city, the Metropolitan library and the city hall’s spacious buildings in Central Seoul are very citizen-friendly places, open to the general public. Often, the area hosts cultural activities, exhibits, or social meetings for the active participation of the public. Occasionally, I do visit these places and currently, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is hosting the “2021 Seoul International Photojournalism Exhibition: New Normal Life” in collaboration with PENTA PRESS, a local photo news agency, exhibiting 86 photos taken by 68 photojournalists from 12 international media outlets, including AP, AFP, EPA, IMAGO, and The New York Times. The exhibit is on until December 20, 2021.

The exhibition organizing committee said through its press release that the exhibition is taking a hybrid online and offline format to share the values of humanitarian coexistence delivered by global photojournalists around the world. The main exhibition consists of 56 photos capturing every moment of happiness and sorrow as well as joy and sadness in the daily lives of ordinary people around the world in the New Normal Life, which has become the world’s new order after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The press release included an open invitation from Youn Jong-jang, Director-General of Public Communication at the Seoul Metropolitan Government which said, “We, Seoul Metropolitan Government, are delighted to hold the 2021 Seoul International Photojournalism Exhibition: New Normal Life, in which Seoul and global citizens are allowed to enjoy international photojournalists’ photos that have captured the new daily lives of people around the world after the COVID-19 outbreak.”

He added, “I hope the Seoul International Photojournalism Exhibition will be an opportunity for Seoul citizens and people around the world to share their daily life amid COVID-19 and a hope that they will be able to greet a new daily life after the pandemic.”

As a photographer, I was so excited when I visited the exhibit this week during a sunny afternoon. The Seoul Metropolitan Library’s exterior wall displayed 20 eye-catching photographs for the public to see. The visitors were advised to walk along the library to enjoy looking at the photographs while keeping social distance.

The organizing committee also indicated that along with the main exhibition, Seoul prepared a special section with photos from The New York Times to welcome the opening of its Asia Digital Hub office in Seoul. Citizens can see 29 Pulitzer Prize-winning photos and a selection of 2021 year-end news photos that visually recap the most impactful stories from this year. Among the most impactful stories of this year are three photos that had been taken from my native country Ethiopia by photojournalists, Finbarr O’Reilly and Nariman El-Mofty, where the conflict has ravaged the country.

According to the committee’s press release, the final exhibition photos were selected by the Photo Selection Committee joined by Ph.D. James D. Kelly, Associate Professor and Director of Journalism of the Media School at Indiana University; Cecilia Bohan, Picture Editor Consultant at The New York Times; Gary Kemper, a former photojournalist at Reuters and Advisor to International Olympic Committee (IOC) Media Operations; and Seokyong Lee, CEO and Chief Photo Director of PENTA PRESS.

Ph.D. James Kelly, Chief of the Photo Selection Committee, said, “Even during a year of pandemic, the world’s photojournalists have found an essential spirit in the lives of everyday people.” He added, “All of these photographs show life as it is lived every day by those who the world’s audiences would otherwise not see. Please look carefully at this collection of images, and you will have an opportunity to see your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, and even yourself.”

The exhibition’s official website and social media channels
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Additional photos: Bereket Alemayehu