The talk/talent show is a familiar genre on the giant flat-screen TVs that seem to twitter from every branch in South Korea. Sprinkled liberally with canned laughter, sound effects too cutesy for Western ears, and snarky commentary delivered by subtitles in egregious typefaces, the shows seem odd to a Westerner, but are popular fare on public TVs in restaurants, coffee shops, and spa locker rooms.
A new iteration called “Now On My Way To Meet You” (이제 만나러 갑니다) puts North Koreans on the screen, seeking to offer grounds for common connection between South Korean audiences and the North Koreans living among them as defectors.
Participants Shin Eun-Hee and Shin Eun-Ha smile on the set of “Now On My Way To Meet You”. Photo credit CHANNEL A @ tv.ichannela.com.
Before I search for other traces of art in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, I aim to publicize a few more interesting works of pop art (and propaganda) created by the escape artist Song Byeok. The two pieces “Fall into My Arms” (above) and “Take Off Your Clothes” (below) both feature the late Kim Jong Il in unconventional forms.
“Fall into My Arms” features Kim Jong Il as the female partner of a dancing couple. He smiles as he quite literally falls into the arms of his male companion as if he were truly tripping over his own feet and pouring his full weight onto the sensuous male supporting him on the dance floor. As he dances, Kim Jong Il maintains his notorious grin and his iconic sunglasses. Song’s painting makes the former leader of the North Korean regime appear like one of the celebrities chosen to compete in the popular television series, Dancing with the Stars. And Kim Jong Il is certainly a star in the eyes of the people of North Korea since, as Song states in his interview with Ferguson, “They believe they are so much better off than the rest of the world because of their two leaders, who are like two suns.” Kim Jong Il is a star that shines brighter than the millions of stars that form our galaxy – he is as radiant as the sun. Continue reading →