Visions of Revolution: Romanticism in North Korean Art

Thursday, February 21, 2019 -
6:00pm to 8:00pm
Korea University, Asiatic Research Institute, Room #310
Tour Leader: 
Min-Kyung Yoon, Ph.D.

Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch in cooperation with École française d'Extrême-Orient

Seoul Colloquium in Korean Studies


February's Presentation

Venue:            Grand Conference Room (Room #310), Asiatic Research
                        Institute, Korea University (see detailed directions, below)

Everyone interested in Korean Studies is welcome, please share this information. No registration is needed.

With its establishment in 1948, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) received its greatest support from the Soviet Union. This support ran the gamut from politics to the economy to culture. During the post-Korean War reconstruction years when the DPRK embarked on a socialist nation-building project, culture was politicized to serve the revolutionary purposes of the state. To make culture an effective tool, Soviet Socialist Realism was adopted in North Korean cultural production. 

When one conjures up North Korean art, therefore, it is often regarded as totalitarian art in the mode of Soviet socialist realist art. Bright colors, almost campy images of the Great Leaders, workers, farmers, and children set within a socialist utopia prevail most North Korean art. A keen desire, however, to individualize North Korean art simmered, leading to the creation of Juche Realism. Named after DPRK’s state ideology, Juche Realism became North Korea’s primary art theory that sought to showcase the uniqueness of North Korean art. Yet North Korean art was not able to become completely independent. Besides Socialist Realism, North Korean art received significant influence from nineteenth-century Romanticism. Inspired by the Romantic tradition of history paintings, North Korean art embraced revolutionary romanticism in its creation of Juche Realism to visualize a monumental narrative that placed the Great Leaders in the center. By understanding how North Korean art sought to individualize, North Korea’s rhetoric on independence is problematized. At the same time, such an understanding further reveals how the divide between socialist and non-socialist art is more fluid than commonly perceived. 

Min-Kyung Yoon is a Lecturer at Kyung Hee University, International Campus and a visiting researcher at the École française d’Extrême-Orient, Seoul Center. She received her PhD from Leiden University in the Netherlands, MA from Harvard University, and BA from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She held postdoctoral fellowships at the École française d’Extrême-Orient, Seoul Center and the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Her article, “North Korean Art Works: Historical Paintings and the Cult of Personality,” appears in Korean Histories. She is currently finishing her book manuscript entitled Aestheticized Politics: The Socialist Imaginary of North Korean Art.

We hope that many of you can come.

Elisabeth Chabanol
Key-young Son
Brother Anthony

Asiatic Research Institute (Room 310)

Take Exit 1 from Korea University subway station, 
turn right onto the footpath leading up onto the campus.
Walk straight up the road past LG Posco Hall, the Business School and Main Library (all on the right hand side).
The Asiatic Research Institute is the building next after the Library
(Building 39 on the Campus Map )

After 6 pm the front door of the Institute will be locked, so please try to arrive a little earlier. If the door is locked, please wait for somone to come out so that they can let you into the building. Or call Brother Anthony, 010-8979-8301.

We will go somewhere for supper at the end of the colloquium.

Seoul Colloquium in Korean Studies

The Seoul Colloquium in Korean Studies is jointly organized by the Seoul Center of the ÉFEO and the Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch (RASKB). Everyone interested in Korean Studies is welcome, please share this information. No registration is needed. 


Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is normally open as follows:

Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays:
                                   10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesdays & Thursdays: 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please call before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796

Email -

Find Us On...


Subscribe to Syndicate