Asian Cartoons Explore Economic Crisis And Shifting Values in a Technological Age

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Asian Cartoons Explore Economic Crisis And Shifting Values in a Technological Age

An exhibition of Asian political cartoons will be on display at the Sejong Gallery in central Seoul from June 21 through July 2. Nine countries will participate in this collaborative project, sponsored in part by the Japan Foundation, with 90 featured works. Entitled "The World Seen Through Cartoons," the show deals primarily with issues common to the Asian community in contemporary history. One prevalent topic is the foreign exchange crisis, which affected all of Asia, and the significant changes it brought to the lives of Asians.

The works in the exhibition document the changing economic and social climate in the 1990s. Kim Sung-hwan represents Korea, contributing works from his well-known four-strip cartoon series entitled "The Old Man Ko Ba-woo." A member of the first generation of Korean political cartoonists, the artist was at one point forced to resign, criticized for the sarcastic tone of his work regarding government corruption.

"The State of Entropy," by the Japanese cartoonist Morita Kenji, explores how technology creates self-centered desire in human beings and allows selfishness to spread in society. Using cellular phones as a prime example, his works typically describe the spread of indifference toward others in the technological age. The artist's works strike a parallel with Kim Sung-hwan's "The Age of Handphone," which also criticizes the unchecked use of cellular phones in public places.

Em Sudarhta from Indonesia contributes "Paper Tiger," which documents the fall of eastern Asia. "Lover" by the Chinese cartoonist Miao Intang explores alienation in contemporary Chinese homes resulting from the modern availability of television.

Ironically, the Burmese artist O Pi Khe observes the Asian economic crisis from an outsider's point of view. Because his country is accustomed to turbulent economic conditions, the artist juxtaposes the reality of persistent poverty in Burma to the temporary crisis that the rest of Asia experiences. In his cartoon, "Too Familiarized," the artist depicts a group of Burmese citizens standing calmly in a ship amid a turbulent sea, placidly watching the other passengers panic.

Sejong Gallery is located in the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. For more information, call 02-2122-2820 (Korean only).

by Park Soo-mee

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