Ким, 2018
Oil on canvas - 116х78.5
Pyongyang, North Korea
How does the traveller see it?
(Fragment of a post from a Facebook page)
Comrade Kim

This work of art was purchased on August 28th, 107, at a Pyongyang gallery. You read that right – the year is correct, and the visa for the painting was issued on August 22nd, 107. That is, 107 years after the birth of Comrade Kim Il-sung (in other words, 2018).

When buying a painting, I always try to get the name of the artist. But in North Korea, it’s not just Kim Jong-un’s personal life that is kept secret. I was simply told that the painting was the work of an art collective. I then threatened not to buy the painting, and since they were eager to take my evil American dollars into their hands, the threat held weight (if you were under the impression that bargaining doesn’t happen in North Korea, well, you would be quite mistaken!). For lovers of communism and socialism, I will just add that North Korea is one of top three most corrupt countries in the world. Forced to answer, the sellers said that the artist was a young woman with the last name Kim. This was not particularly helpful, as about 70 percent of the Korean population has the last name Kim. I’ve even been to the exact place in South Korea where the Kim clan (Kim means “gold” in Korean) is thought to have originated. I ended up buying the painting, and I hope at least some of that money reached the young artist, rather than all of it going to her chubby-cheeked namesake.

So, what’s going on in the picture? The subject is a bride, dressed in traditional Korean attire. She is offering a ceremonial cup to her husband-to-be’s parents as a show of respect. But this was unconfirmed information to me at the time – could it be that today, this cup is a symbol of the Korean people’s love for the Great Marshall and “Sun of the 21st century”?

PS. I later received confirmation from comments on Facebook that this woman was indeed a bride, and that it was rice wine in the cup. There’s a photo in the comments of the groom and his parents.
What does the expert say?
This portrait – more specifically, this image – of a young bride in traditional attire, was drawn in 2018 by an artist from North Korea with the last name Kim. As part of a ritual, she extends a ceremonial cup to the groom’s parents as a show of respect. With almost naturalistic accuracy, the artist depicts the bride’s multicolored outfit, the mats on the floor as well as the painted folding screens behind her. She uses what looks almost like porcelain paint to draw the bride’s beautiful face – a manifestation of ideal beauty in the eyes of the Korean people.

Olena Polovna-Vasilieva, artist, M.F.A., Associate Professor at Oles Honchar Dnipro National University, member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine
Что скажет зритель?