Plush green pine trees are densely planted on rocky hills outside a towering apartment block in Seoul. They resemble South Korea’s famed Dodamsambong Peaks, but are just a fraction of the size.
This beautification trend, known as “jingyeong sansu,” seeks to recreate the country’s most famous mountains – on a much smaller scale – outside luxury apartment complexes and private villas.
The artificial mountains are built by real estate developers hoping to improve the buildings’ feng shui – and market value. Some residents also believe that they bring the healing power of nature to their front doors.
Seoul-based photographer Seunggu Kim has been capturing these unconventional structures since 2011. In that time, he has visited around 30 apartment complexes fitted with grandiose rock gardens and tree-covered hills.
Having spent his 20s working on construction sites, Kim was often among the first people to witness the months-long process of reproducing the country’s best known mountains.
Workers first build a basic Styrofoam mold, which is secured on or around the apartment block, he said. Then they cover it with soil, before planting flowers and trees.
The structures are often accompanied by engravings describing the positive energy each mountain is thought to bring, from fertility and aspiration to peace of mind.