In this talk, I seek to answer the simple question “What does it mean to be an artist in North Korea?” In order to answer this straightforward question, I turn to North Korean art theory in search of the local understanding of art. I pay attention to the organization of the art world and I focus on art pedagogy in a way to grasp how North Korean talent is reared and socialized.
All this abstract knowledge has come to life through ethnographic fieldwork with North Korean artists over the summer of 2018. In conversations with staff of the Pyongyang University of Fine Arts and with a select group of Korean painters at the Mansudae Art Studio, I learned how these individuals understood themselves as artists in their own society.
Dr. Koen De Ceuster is a historian of modern Korea at Leiden University, Netherlands. He has published widely on South and North Korean affairs. Interested in the social construction of history and the politics of memory, he studies North Korean propaganda posters and art. He is an internationally recognized authority on north Korean art theory and practice.
This event is co-sponsored by the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and the Program in Arms Control and Domestic & International Securities.