Eugénie Baccot

Documentary Photographer

Pastor Lee's Home

The home of Pastor Lee is unlike any other in Seoul. Exemplified by the dozens of pairs of shoes littering the floor of the entrance, the countless rows of diapers strewn about here and there between the cracks of available cupboards and bookshelf space, the carpets of children lining the floors on both levels of the remaining yardage. Pastor Lee decided to have a very big family. Today, at 60 years old, he has 19 children ranging from 32 years old to 2 months. But most importantly were the hazards which led the life of this former supermarket manager to become the father of this such a considerably sized family. At 28, his youngest was born severely disabled. During his regular visits to see his son in the hospital, he discovered the fates of so many children with disabilities in South Korea; abandoned by their families, to become children of the state. He decided then and there to adopt them. While the house was busy being filled, the manager of the store became a pastor; and the family home, an active church. Every Sunday worship takes place in the living room wedged somewhere between the toys and the children's wheelchairs, in the presence of the faithful followers of his working class district. But the peculiarities of this house do not stop there. In a vestibule, attached to a wall, there is a strange closet, heated and filled with blankets. At The opposing face of this closet is yet another entrance which then opens onto the street. This is the Baby Drop Box: a small box where mothers may anonymously leave their beleaguered children. Isn't this an incentive to abandon? The pastor dismisses such criticism with a simple hand gesture, noting that around 600 children are abandoned each year in the streets of Seoul. Sometimes in a trash can, and often in the dire frosts of winter. The life of this household is now punctuated by the chimes which resonate, day or night, several times a week, whenever a child is left in the box. Sometimes with a note from their mother; sometimes with clothes or a bottle.

(trans. of text by) Ariane Puccini // freelance journalist //