North Korean painters’ works shown in London

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North Korean painters’ works shown in London


The North Korean Embassy in London flung open its doors on Tuesday to exhibit the work of four artists who are members of an art studio run by the regime.

The rare four-day event, slated to last until Friday, was made possible after the embassy in Ealing, west London, joined hands with David Heather, a Soviet art historian who has visited North Korea several times, according to NK News, a Washington, D.C.-based website specializing in news about Pyongyang.

“We had to go to the highest possible levels in Pyongyang to get approval for this,” Heather was quoted as saying by the British newspaper The Telegraph.

“I believe culture has an enormously important role to play in developing relationships between people. And, for want of a better word, it shows that North Korean people are ‘normal.’”

North Korean oil painters Ho Jae-song, Jon Pyong-jin, Hong Song-il, Kim Hun, whose works featured in the exhibition, are members of the Mansudae Art Studio, which was founded in 1959 and employs more than 4,000 people. Of those, about 700 are artists.

The four artists traveled to London to spend two days in the city, hold interviews with local media outlets and speak face-to-face with visitors to the show.

Artists from the Mansudae Art Studio are reportedly selected by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and responsible for the majority of North Korean artwork, producing everything from propaganda posters and Kim family portraits to scenic oil paintings.

But when it comes to inspiration, they are no different than their contemporaries.

“We get artistic inspirations from human life and circumstances, so our works are all about human life and beautiful scenes,” Hong was quoted as saying by NK News. “We produced many artworks, among them several works are already collected by [the] Korean National Gallery.”

Born between 1967 and 1972, all four artists are graduates of Pyongyang University of Fine Arts, the nation’s top art school.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]


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