My Family’s Slave

She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.


She ashes filled a black plastic box about the size of a toaster. It weighed three and a half pounds. I put it in a canvas tote bag and packed it in my suitcase this past July for the transpacific flight to Manila. From there I would travel by car to a rural village. When I arrived, I would hand over all that was left of the woman who had spent 56 years as a slave in my family’s household.

Lola Pulido (shown on the left at age 18) came from a poor family in a rural part of the Philippines. The author’s grandfather “gave” her to his daughter as a gift.

Lola Pulido (shown on the left at age 18) came from a poor family in a rural part of the Philippines. The author’s grandfather “gave” her to his daughter as a gift.

She was 18 years old when my grandfather gave her to my mother as a gift, and when my family moved to the United States, we brought her with us. No other word but slave encompassed the life she lived. Her days began before everyone else woke and ended after we went to bed. She prepared three meals a day, cleaned the house, waited on my parents, and took care of my four siblings and me. My parents never paid her, and they scolded her constantly. She wasn’t kept in leg irons, but she might as well have been. So many nights, on my way to the bathroom, I’d spot her sleeping in a corner, slumped against a mound of laundry, her fingers clutching a garment she was in the middle of folding. (All words by Alex Tizon, published in The Atlantic)

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Cover, A Story of Slavery in Modern America, The Atlantic, June 2017

Cover, A Story of Slavery in Modern America, The Atlantic, June 2017

Alex Tizon passed away in March. He was a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and the author of Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self. For more about Alex, please see this editor’s note.

Goshitel: Refuge for Those Who Can’t Help It

Sim Kyu-dong

Sim Kyu-dong

Goshiwon is a form of housing that has been in South Korea for more than 40 years. It started as cheap, temporary accommodations for students who spend years studying for difficult state and bar exams, known as goshi in Korean. The flats usually consist of cramped rooms less than five square meters, with a communal kitchen and bathroom.

As housing prices rise in Seoul, goshiwons have evolved to find a broader clientele. Some are more clean, spacious, and even “minimalistic” — an euphemism for the bareness of the room — and claimed the ironic name of goshitel (goshiwon+hotel). Such names became interchangeable, sometimes deceivingly. Soon not only students, but poorly paid office workers began seeking refuge in various forms of goshiwon or goshitel. According to the former National Emergency Management Agency (now integrated into the Ministry of Public Safety and Security), there were 11,457 registered goshiwons across South Korea in 2014, 6,158 of them Seoul. Factoring in illegal, unregistered goshiwons, the total number must be greater, and the number of people living in goshiwons may be ten to twenty times that figure.

Sim Kyu-dong

Sim Kyu-dong

South Korean photographer Sim Kyu-dong, 29, lived in various goshitels across Seoul for more than three years. Born and raised in the port city of Gangneung in Gangwon Province, Sim came to Seoul to find work during leaves of absence from school. Without money for a lump sum deposit for a studio — in South Korea, a big deposit is necessary to secure a rental — goshitel was his only housing option.

When he chanced upon a gritty goshitel in Sillim-dong, an area on the margin of Seoul known for high numbers of test takers, and migrant workers more recently, he realized how goshiwon and goshitel became a place for the poor — both young and old. Its monthly rent was mere 220,000 won (US$ 200). What was his own personal story expanded into a photography project. Sim lived in this unnamed goshitel for ten months, documenting the lives therein: his own and the other residents’. (by )

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Sim’s photo book on the goshitel is coming out in late April from South Korea’s photo book publisher Noonbit. He is running a crowdfunding campaign to exhibit the photos at the South Korean National Assembly in May. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Jun Michael Park is a documentary photographer and visual storyteller from South Korea. Jun is represented by laif Agency and available for assignments.

Self/Portrait, by Teresa Eng


Self/Portrait is about contemporary China and its millennial generation. This generations’ outward presentation of ‘self’ contrasts with their parents and grandparents. Not only have they grown up as digital natives, they are also the first generation in China to be born into a society already transitioning to capitalism.


Teresa Eng

This article with more pore pictures and text was published on

Teresa Eng was born in Vancouver, Canada and is based in London, England. She received a Bachelor in Communication Design from Emily Carr University and a MA Photography from London College of Communication in 2009.


Vlad Sokhin

Vlad Sokhin, “Warm Waters Series”

Vlad Sokhin is a peripatetic photographer, videographer and multimedia producer with a penchant for intense stories covering human rights, social and environmental issues. He has worked with many major publications, as well as for the United Nations and various other NGOs. In between assignments, he would work on his personal, long-term projects. For Crying Meri, Vlad documented cases of violence against women in Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s most dangerous places to be female. Since 2013, he has been working on Warm Waters, a wide-ranging project documenting the effects of climate change on communities from Alaska to New Zealand.

Vlad Sokhin

Vlad Sokhin, “Evictions Series”

Check out more pictures and the interview with Vlad Sokhin by Tan Lee Kuen on ASIA PAPERCAMERA:

Asia Papercamera was created by Tan Lee Kuen, a writer and photographer, as a personal project to celebrate and share photography-related stories and interviews from Asia. It is a place to discover emerging talent, recognise established photographers and appreciate photo stories from this region, the largest and most diverse continent in the world.