Ko’s cartoons still a big draw

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Ko’s cartoons still a big draw


Artist Ko in his studio in the 1980s. Provided by the organizer

Many mourned when cartoonist Ko Woo-young passed away three years ago at the age of 67.

His works, however, remain in many people’s hearts.

The Arco Art Center in Daehangno, central Seoul, is holding a retrospective on the works of Ko, a representative comic artist of 1970s and 1980s Korea. “Ko Woo-young Comics: Never Ending Story,” opens next Wednesday.

“His works still have so much to reveal,” said Kwon Jin, the center’s communications manager.

The retrospective displays original works preserved by the family.

Artsists from other generations also offer new perspectives on Ko’s work.

For example, Kim Hong-jun, the director of “La Vie en Rose” (1994), remade Ko’s comedy film “Garujigi” (1988), which originally starred Lee Dae-geun and Kim Mun-hee. Garujigi is a story of commoners’ life and their pursuit of social reforms. It revolves around Byeon Kang-soe (Lee Dae-geum), the tough, macho sex symbol.

Collections of contemporary cartoon artists Joo Jae-hwan, Kang Kyung-ju and Yoon Dong-chun are also on display.

“Visitors are welcome to enjoy a wide range of genres ? paintings, sculptures, videos and installations ? that all relate to Ko’s comics,” Kwon said. “The late Ko’s works related to popular culture three decades ago and even today.”


Characters from Chohanji (1984)

Ko made his debut in 1953 with his 16-paged “Jwidori” (jwi means mouse in Korean), a Korean version of Disney’s Mickey Mouse.

He was the first to serialize a newspaper comic, “Imkukjung,” in Sports Daily in 1972, which increased the number of copies published.

His works, including “Suhoji” (1973), “Three Kingdoms” (1978) and “Iljime” (1975) are mainly satirical and critical of society.

The final episode of Suhoji was published in 2003. He started the comic in the early 1970s but publication was interrupted at times because the military regime had prohibited publishing and he had poor health.

“The exhibition tries to accept different artist’s work and their views,” Kwon said. “Different generations of artists have reinterpreted Ko’s work.”


Characters from Suhoji (1973)

On the second floor of Arko Art Center, there is a lounge where visitors can read Ko’s classic comics.

The retrospective runs until Sept. 12. It is open every day except Mondays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are 2,000 won ($1.40) for adults and 1,000 won for students. Hyehwa Station, line No. 4, exit 2. For more information visit www.arkoartcenter.or.kr or call (02) 760-4724.

By Lee Eun-joo Staff Reporter [angie@joongang.co.kr]
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