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North Korean Woodblock Prints on Exhibit at Korea Society in NYC
Exhibit helps to highlight need for more cultural exchanges between North Korea and other countries
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2008-09-10 17:22 (KST)   

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The Korea Society in New York is hosting an exhibit of North Korean woodcut printing. The exhibit which will be on display at their gallery until Dec. 12 will then travel to other sites around the US. The exhibit features 24 prints from the Nicholas Bonner collection. The exhibit spans three decades of North Korean woodcut art. The woodcuts offer a rare glimpse into the life and customs in North Korea.

A number of the woodcuts were from the 1988-1989 period. There are also a few which are from the 1990s. One of the few woodcuts from the early 1990s shows a factory scene where the workers at the factory continued to work during the difficult period of the famine and economic crisis that gripped the country after the breakup of the Soviet bloc countries.

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In other woodcuts there are scenes of women workers harvesting shellfish, of workers from all over North Korea who are part of the effort to build a railroad through the mountains, of families with their children, and one woodcut of a teacher being eagerly greeted by her students.

The fact the woodcuts show various aspects of life in North Korea helps to remind the viewer how rare it has been to have any knowledge of the life and experiences of North Koreas. This is in good part the situation because of the hostile policy of the US government toward North Korea. The activities of the Korea Society in holding such an exhibit are especially welcome as the exhibit is helping to spread some of the little knowledge that exists in the US about the life and culture of North Koreans.

The colors in the prints are vibrant. There are different textures portrayed. But most special are the details of working life shown in the prints that the exhibit presents. Working life is not often enough the subject of art, despite how central it is to the life of every society. The prints show working life in both urban and rural settings and the integration of the two, as for example, is depicted when soldiers or volunteers go to a rural area to help with a harvest or workers from around the country go to help dig through a mountain so as to make possible a railway.

On Sept. 9, the Korea Society held the opening reception for the exhibit.

Happiness of the Miners: Young miners enthusiastically read newspaper article describing their success in exceeding production quotas

May 1989: May is the time for transplanting rice in Northern Korea. Collecdtive farmers working in a rice paddy.

Constellation of Lake Samji Village: Power from recently built hydro electric station on Lake Samji lights up the windows of a nearby village which presents as a pattern of glowing stars.

Potato flower flagrance of Taehongden Province 1999: Taehongden Province in the North of the country is a major source of North Korea's potato crop Soldiers and sailors who have completed their military service have volunteered to come and help work in the field.

May Day Stadium construction 1988

Building a railway thru mountains: Through the 1980s workers from all over North Korea came to help build a railroad through the country's northern mountains. Suspended on a sheer cliff high above a raging river and buffeted by wind and snow the figures pursue their work.

Shallow sea harvester 1988: Lifting and sorting shell fish which are used widely as part of the Korean's food died, these women who harvest them are helping to feed the nation.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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