Gastarbeiter Korean miners and nurses in Germany
: 1st – 15th Nov. 2016

Kim Sperling

Gastarbeiter is a portrait series about the korean men and women that came to work as so called “gastar- beiter” to Germany. Since 1963 round about 8000 men and 10000 women arrived from Korea to work in the West German coal mines and as nurses in the hospitals. While supporting their relatives by send- ing money back to Korea, they have not only helped Korea to develop, but also managed to master the challenges of a life abroad succesfully. While half of them have returned to Korea, or moved on to other countries, the other 50 percent have made Germany their permanent home. The work has been part of an exhibition touring through Germany together with Herlinde Koelbl in 2013. Some of the pictures have been shown at the Jeonju International Photo Festival 2014 and in group show at the Museum Folkwang in Essen. The series consists of 21 portraits so far (15 portraits from Germany, 6 from Korea). The following 2 pages show some exhibition views. Additionaly I have included an index of the whole series. photography, Diasec (digital C-Print face mounted behind acrylic glass), Edition 5 + 2 AP

‘외국인 근로자’는 독일에서 외국인 근로자가 된 한국 남자들과 여자들을 그린 초상화 시리즈다. 1963년 이후, 약 8천 명의 남자들과 1만 명의 여자들이 서부 독일의 광산이나 병원에서 간호사로 일하기 위해 독일로 이주했다. 그들은 고향의 가족들에게 돈을 보냄으로써 한국의 발전에 기여하는 한편 타지의 삶이 주는 갖가지 어려움들을 성공적으로 극복해냈다. 물론 절반 정도는 도로 한국으로 돌아가거나 다른 국가로 자리를 옮겼지만, 나머지 절반은 독일을 자신의 영구적인 거주지로 삼았다.

Kim Sperling

1975 born in Seoul, Korea
1976 adopted to Germany
2006 I returned to Korea for the first time and met my future wife while staying in Seoul.
2015 I am married and the father of a 5 year old son and a daughter age 2.
I work as an artist and freelance photographer based in Hamburg.


2010 – 2014 Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, M.A. communication design, photography
1999 – 2008 University of Applied Sciences Dortmund, Diploma communication design, photography
2006 Inje University, Gimhae Korea


2009 Dokumentarfotografie Förderpreis 08 der Wüstenrot Stiftung
2005 Designförderpreis des Landes NRW
Selected exhibitions
2016 Ach du lieber Nachbar, Kreativ.Quartier Ückendorf, Gelsenkirchen
2015 Pixelprojekt_Ruhrgebiet – 2014/15, Wissenschaftspark Gelsenkirchen
2014 Kunst in der Börse, Hamburg
2014 Space in & Space Out, Gallery Misulsegye, Seoul Korea
2014 7th Jeonju International Photo Festival, Jeonju Korea
2014 Was war und was ist, Museum Folkwang Essen
2013 Dokumentarfotografie Förderpreise 08, Museum für Photographie Braunschweig
2013 50 years korean miners and nurses, koreanisches Kulturzentrum Berlin; Haus am Dom Frankfurt,
2013 Das Nahe und die Ferne, Künstlerhaus Dortmund
2012 Dokumentarfotografie Förderpreise 08, Kunstverein Ludwigshafen; Stadtgalerie Brunsbüttel; Design-
haus Hessen Darmstadt
2011 Dokumentarfotografie Förderpreise 08, Kunstmuseum Bochum; Landesmuseum Bonn
2011 a long journey, namu arae ohu, Gyeonggi-do Korea
2010 uri nara, Koreanisches Kulturzentrum Berlin [solo exhibtion]
2009 dispersed and returned, Metro Art Center Seoul Korea
2009 2nd Kassel Fotobookfestival, Kassel
2008 our space: six perspectives, Seoul Korea
2005 Designaward NRW, Red Dot Design Museum Essen
2005 germankoreartists, Theaterhaus Berlin Mitte

2009  DokumentarfotografieFörderpreis 08 der WüstenrotStiftung 2005  Designförderpreis des Landes NRW

1975년 서울에서 태어나 1976년 독일로 입양되었다. 2006년 처음으로 한국을 방문해 서울에 머물면서 현재 부인을 만났다. 2015년 지금은 결혼했으며 5살 아들과 2살 딸의 아버지가 되었다. 함부르크에서 프리랜서 예술가, 사진작가로 일하고 있다.