, 25. August 2017
Art based on an isolated Country

Interesting Artists from North Korea

The world rarely gets anything to see from the art of North Korea. There is the Korean art gallery in North Korea, specifically in Pyongyang, where Korean art from ancient times to the present is exhibited. However, there is not much for the outer world. We went in search of interesting artists coming from North Korea.

x-working The Korean art gallery in Pyongyang, © Laika ac from USA
The Korean art gallery in Pyongyang, © Laika ac from USA

700 artists work in the Mansudae art studio in Pyongyang, who create sculptures and busts, who paint or who develop monuments. They mostly do this for African rulers or Europeans with a fancy taste. The revenues provide North Korea the urgently needed foreign exchanges. Nevertheless, Mansudae is on the sanction lists of the UN. Therefore, trading art is currently very difficult.

Artists who have been fleeing from North Korea do not like to appear in public for fear of repressions against abandoned relatives. The artist Song Byeok is different. He used to be a propaganda painter for Kim Jong II. After surviving his labor camp and flight, he lived as a freelance artist in South Korea. He prefers to paint caricatures of North Korean dictators. This way he treats his trauma about the experience of his past.

At least two North Korean artists, who participated in the exhibition "KoreaKorea" of Galerie Son in 2014, were officially allowed to leave Berlin. The goal of the exhibition was to bring together North Korean and South Korean artists. Kwang Chol SIM likes to portraiture à la Gerhard Richter. His artworks come with traces of Asian ink painting as well as impressionist painting. Hyon Chol PAK was born in the province of Hwanghae-namdo in North Korea in 1969. He works as a designer and powder painter at the Mansudae studio.

The circus artists of the National Circus of North Korea enjoy a great stage every year. They won the "Golden Clown" at the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo already several times. No other trapeze group in the world jumps such risky moves: triple somersaults twice in a row in one single performance or – unique in the world - a quadruple somersault.

Another artist, currently in demand in South Korea, is Kang Chun-Heyok. At the age of 12, he fled from North Korea to China and later arrived in South Korea. Here he completed his art studies at the Hongik University. Kang Chun-Heyok paints comic-like, minimalist drawings dealing with human rights in his homeland. As a child, he had to watch executions and his mother fell ill with tuberculosis due to the production of nuclear weapons. With his drawings, he wants to draw the world's attention to the fact that many people in North Korea are still starving. The artist, like many North Korean artists, is in exile to reunite North and South Korea.

© 2017 – x-working

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