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汽车电瓶

Discovering Pyongyang through art

2024-07-23 03:34:32      点击:178
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon,<strong></strong> fourth from left, listens to Seoul residents' thoughts on Seoul and Pyongyang's urban policies during a symposium on Pyongyang at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in central Seoul, Wednesday. / Korea Times photo by You Soo-sun
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, fourth from left, listens to Seoul residents' thoughts on Seoul and Pyongyang's urban policies during a symposium on Pyongyang at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in central Seoul, Wednesday. / Korea Times photo by You Soo-sun

Art as channel to understand lives of ‘ordinary' Pyongyang residents


By You Soo-sun

The apartment is a subject of lust shared among many Koreans ― one that transcends the border dividing North and South Korea.

"I feel as if my worth is being depreciated by living in the countryside, where all the officials are flocking from to go live in nice apartments," a character in a North Korean film vents to her husband, a scene which honestly displays ordinary life under the reclusive regime.

As such, industrialization has brought with it a host of other problems to Pyongyang, home to about 2.5 million people.

These changes and challenges are reflected in various art forms such as architecture and television, according to experts who participated at the Pyongyang Sallim Symposium held at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in central Seoul, Wednesday.

The symposium, held by the Seoul Metropolitan Government as part of its city rejuvenation project, was planned by Valerie Gelezeau and Koen De Ceuster, both foreign experts on North Korea.

"Redundancy of images has created our intuitive image of Pyongyang... and we see inhabitants of Pyongyang as only actors," Gelezeau said. "But we wanted to portray it as another city ― in imagined, planned and existing forms."

Pyongyang, as a city, has also gone through major changes along with industrialization ― especially under the leadership of Kim Jong-un.

"The construction of the city much depends on the ideology and style of the leader," Professor Koh Yu-hwan from Dongguk University said. "Kim Jong-un has emphasized fancying up the city space."

Representative of this are statues; those of Kim Jong-un and Kim Il-sung have been rebuilt to wear smiling faces. They also look younger, vibrant and colorful.

Another powerful channel displaying these changes is television. The regime uses it as a tool to spread its agenda, according to Benjamin Joinau, an assistant professor at Hongik University.

"It gives an indirect reflection of society through the regime's agenda," Joinau said.

While cinema is used a means to promote social solidarity and equal distribution, he explained, actual features of the city become evident in the process of delivering that message, allowing us to discover Pyongyang.

For example, we can see the North is now confronted by various issues arising in urban life, including a growing female workforce, apartments and the rapid urbanization and westernization of lifestyles, he explained.

It also provides a glimpse into its citizens' daily lives, the spaces they share and the way they interact, according to Jeon Young-sun, a research professor at Hongik University. "Through this we can also spot the commonalities between the North and South ― there is really not a big difference in the way we live," Jeon said.



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