Day 52: The Emperor’s New Clothes

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February 21, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

North Korea doesn’t often get portrayed as a very glamorous place; somewhat the opposite, in fact.  But what can be done to the image of a country that has existed under the plump little thumbs of a series of glorious leaders brutal dictators for decades?  How about making fun of them?

Today’s project features an escaped North Korean artist, reclaiming his creativity and directing his art to soften the image of his former nation’s former iconic leader: Kim Jong-il.

Song Byeok, when growing up in North Korea, was forced to use his talent to spread the message of the state.  Propaganda is a dying art, but North Korea’s doing its very best to keep its fearful message loud and clear throughout its small nation.  Song, however, was not content to remain a part of that machine, and escaped his homeland after enduring famine, imprisonment, and torture.  His work since breaking free has been an attempt to draw attention to the tragic absurdity of his native land’s suffocated culture, starting at the tippy top.

Now Byeok is looking to present his latest artwork at a showcase in the U.S. and is turning to Kickstarter to help make it happen.

World renowned Korean contemporary artist and satirist Song Byeok will exhibit twenty acrylic paintings, including six pieces not yet seen by the public, at The Goat Farm, an acclaimed visual and performing arts center near downtown Atlanta, February 17 – 26. Distinguished professors at Emory University, Georgia State University, and Georgia Institute of Technology have also invited Song to lecture about his life and art as part of a two-week tour of Georgia’s cultural and academic hubs.

Taking a look at some of Byeok’s work, I think you’ll appreciate his style.  Check out a sample of his work:

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Classy, no?

I’m a fan, and I’m proud to help this liberated artist spread his revised message of North Korean culture across the world.  You can help him too by backing this project before Feb 28.


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