Journal 20.

“Faceless” Artist

  Sun Mu, a North Korean defect, paints propaganda pictures of North Korea in order to spread awareness of North Korea’s poverty. The picture on the right is an example of Sun Mu’s drawing of overly happy children singing about happiness. His other pictures include a portrait of Kim Jong Il in pink pants, many children hand in hand with happy smiles, and other funny drawings of Kim Jong Il. This artist does not reveal his true name and hides his face from photographers because he does not want to put his family in North Korean in danger. He is afraid that Kim Jong Il will send his family into prison camps.

Some South Koreans did not understand the irony behind Sun Mu’s paintings. They thought Sun Mu was pro-communist because all the pictures of the children are extremely happy. Even the slogans on the bottom, such as “There is no poverty in this world”, hints at a successful communist country. However, this faceless artist painted these paintings to raise awareness that these smiles are fake. People in the North are unhappy, but they pretend to be devoted and well-off because they fear the communist government. The fact that South Koreans could misinterpret the paintings is very sad; this shows that they either don’t know or care about the North Koreans (and also that some have a hard time understanding irony/sarcasm). I think many Koreans neglect the poverty and sufferings of the North because they cannot see it. Although Sun Mu’s efforts to promote action and awareness did not make much of a difference in Korea yet, I am hoping Koreans take these paintings more seriously.

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