Kim Jong Il would be rolling in his grave if he could see the art of Song Byeok. Formerly a propaganda painter for the “Dear Leader,” Byeok is now a satirical painter who depicts the late dictator in all sorts of compromising positions, such as wearing a Marilyn Monroe-inspired dress. Byeok and his art will be coming to Washington April 13 for a rare American exhibition at the Dunes.
The Style Blog wrote about Byeok’s work in December, shortly after Kim Jong Il’s death:
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.
Byeok has exhibited in the U.S. once before, in Atlanta. The show ”Song Byeok: Departure” has been made possible through donations to a Kickstarter campaign, which has raised funds to bring his work to D.C. His Marilyn Monroe painting, titled “Take Your Clothes Off,” will be included in the exhibition, along with 15 other works. The exhibition will close April 30.
Byeok will also lecture at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in D.C. on April 12. Guests can RSVP for the lecture through Byeok’s Web site. If you can’t make it to the lecture, you can also watch Byeok on CNN Talk Asia on Friday, March 23.