Kim Jong Il depicted as Marilyn Monroe in former propaganda artist’s painting

Kim Jong Il depicted as Marilyn Monroe in former propaganda artist’s painting

Kim Jong Il depicted as Marilyn Monroe in former propaganda artist’s painting

Some like it hot, but Kim Jong Il in Marilyn Monroe’s fluttering dress is certainly not what most people have in mind when they think “hot.”


North Korean defector and artist Song Byeok paints next to another work of his, titled "Marilyn Monroe," which satirizes North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, at his atelier in Seoul, Dec. 23, 2011. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Byeok works under a pseudonym, because he fears retaliation against relatives who remain in North Korea. He was selected at age 24 to become an official state propagandist, according to the biography on his Web site. He told Reuters that he was simply handed a sketch of whatever propaganda the state wanted illustrated that day, never meeting Kim Jong Il. He defected in 2002 and now lives in South Korea, where he paints propaganda-inspired works that mock the North Korean state and demonstrate his newfound freedom. He will exhibit his work in the U.S. at an Atlanta art center in February.


(Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Byeok isn’t the only North Korean propaganda artist whose work is getting a second look after Kim Jong Il’s death. Another former propaganda artist who mocks Kim works under a pseudonym, Sun Mu. Both paint the “Dear Leader,” and they have another subject in common — the hollow-eyed children that are called “fluttering swallows” in North Korea.

But as a new leader takes over in North Korea, could Kim Jung Eun be the next to appear in embarrassing situations in Byeok’s art? He tells Reuters he’ll wait and see, but he has no plans to paint him yet.


(Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

(Wally Santana/AP)

Previously:

‘Kim Jong Il Looking at Things’ will likely continue beyond its meme-maker’s death

Kim Jong Il’s mourners spark a meme

Kim Jong Il’s cultural legacy: Propaganda paintings, communist ‘Godzilla’


View Photo Gallery: Following the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, the isolationist state will try to pass power to Kim’s youngest son, Kim Jong Eun, who is in his 20s.

by Maura Judkis

Some like it hot, but Kim Jong Il in Marilyn Monroe’s fluttering dress is certainly not what most people have in mind when they think “hot.”


North Korean defector and artist Song Byeok paints next to another work of his, titled "Marilyn Monroe," which satirizes North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, at his atelier in Seoul, Dec. 23, 2011. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Byeok works under a pseudonym, because he fears retaliation against relatives who remain in North Korea. He was selected at age 24 to become an official state propagandist, according to the biography on his Web site. He told Reuters that he was simply handed a sketch of whatever propaganda the state wanted illustrated that day, never meeting Kim Jong Il. He defected in 2002 and now lives in South Korea, where he paints propaganda-inspired works that mock the North Korean state and demonstrate his newfound freedom. He will exhibit his work in the U.S. at an Atlanta art center in February.


(Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Byeok isn’t the only North Korean propaganda artist whose work is getting a second look after Kim Jong Il’s death. Another former propaganda artist who mocks Kim works under a pseudonym, Sun Mu. Both paint the “Dear Leader,” and they have another subject in common — the hollow-eyed children that are called “fluttering swallows” in North Korea.

But as a new leader takes over in North Korea, could Kim Jung Eun be the next to appear in embarrassing situations in Byeok’s art? He tells Reuters he’ll wait and see, but he has no plans to paint him yet.


(Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

(Wally Santana/AP)

Previously:

‘Kim Jong Il Looking at Things’ will likely continue beyond its meme-maker’s death

Kim Jong Il’s mourners spark a meme

Kim Jong Il’s cultural legacy: Propaganda paintings, communist ‘Godzilla’


View Photo Gallery: Following the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, the isolationist state will try to pass power to Kim’s youngest son, Kim Jong Eun, who is in his 20s.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.

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