Dion Bierdrager

Words by Dion Bierdrager.


In the early summer of 2021, I found myself living in Seoul, South Korea, following an internship. Nestled in the heart of Seoul, it was my first time experiencing life in a city as vast as this. Having grown up in the countryside of the Netherlands, stepping into this new world was both exhilarating and overwhelming.


One weekend, I decided to go on a trip to visit one of the Buddhist temples in the midst of Korea. Since childhood, I had been intrigued by Buddhism and its teachings. So, when I stumbled upon a temple stay program, I felt an irresistible urge to escape the city for a few days and experience what it means to follow this program. Given the circumstances of the COVID-19 era, I found myself as the only participant in the program, amplifying a feeling of solitude.

Beopjusa, situated in the heart of the country, is embraced by mountains and a large lake, truly within nature’s embrace. Each morning, before the sun would light the world, I would rise, which was quite early given the early summer dawn. After waking, I would join the monks for their chanting ritual, followed by a simple breakfast. During this time, I made a conscious decision to leave my phone behind, immersing myself fully in the experience. I spent my days hiking, delving into books, and reflecting on aspects of my life that often eluded me amidst the busy life in Seoul. It may sound cliché, but those few days were a truly unique and calming experience, disconnected from everything but my own thoughts and following the natural rhythm of my surroundings.


As I write these words from my apartment in Amsterdam, where I am currently residing, I find myself yearning for those days spent amidst the temple’s embrace. The images captured during my stay serve as a reflection of the calmness I found there. All images were taken on my final day at Beopjusa. I chose to remove myself from my camera as well, not wanting to be distracted by it—an instrument that, at times, serves as an escape from my own thoughts.

Dion Bierdrager

Through his personal work, Dion delves into the impact of urbanization on both landscapes and communities, the significance of what we call “home”, and the complexities of our relations with the natural world. With a critical yet curious perspective, he explores the intricate relationship between humanity and its environment – be it urban or rural, using his emotions and intuition to guide him in the creative process. By blending traditional printing techniques with a keen sense of color and light, he creates painterly images that are imbued with a sense of intimacy and warmth. Dion earned his BA from the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague and is currently based between Amsterdam and Seoul.