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North Korean Art Responds to the Outside World

Brian Myers 1

1동서대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The rapid deterioration of the information cordon that once sealed North Korea off from the outside world has had manifold effects on cultural life inside the country. The influx of South Korean culture and information has been of particular importance, as it threatens to undermine North Korea’s official myths. Unable to restore the cordon of old, the regime now finds itself forced to compete with heterodox culture for citizens’ attention. This state of affairs has brought about certain changes in the official culture, including the visual arts, that merit attention; the beauty ideal, for example, already shows clear signs of “South Koreanization”. The past decade or so has also seen a sharp increase in foreign travel to North Korea, and with it a commercialization of the North Korean art industry that includes the production-to-order of ironic propaganda-style pictures for foreign tourists. This development, too, has already had obvious effects on the country’s art scene, and may well further undermine artists’ support for the official culture. The following article is an attempt to introduce readers to the current state of the visual arts in North Korea and to discuss the ways in which the art scene appears to be responding to the influx of outside culture.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.