• 최종편집 2024-06-19(수)
 
         

 

    

 

[LeadersTimes]InanexclusiveinterviewconductedwithartistAhnChung-guk,aNorthKorean defector and emerging artist, insights into his journey and artistic vision wereunveiled at his special exhibit “Shapes Beyond” at the Inter-Korean Cultural IntegrationCenter.

  

Born in Hamgyeong-do, North Korea, Ahn Chung-guk began his artistic journey due to hisfather's unfulfilled dreams. Reflecting on his childhood, Ahn shared, “When I was born, hegave his unrealized ambitions onto me, urging me to pursue painting.” However, when Ahnwas twelve years old, his father defected to South Korea. Before defecting, he—a carpenterwithakeeninterestinart—giftedhispaintingsuppliestoAhn’scousin,who,outofgratitude,encouraged Ahn to pursue drawing in earnest.

  

At the age of fifteen, Ahn embarked on his own journey of defection. His father's departurehad left an indelible mark on his family, culminating in a daring escape across the TumenRiver into China. With each step towards freedom, Ahn found himself mesmerized by thevibrancy of life beyond the confines of North Korea, traversing through China, Thailand, andLaos before finally reaching South Korea in approximately three and a half months. Heremarked, “I was captivated by the artificial vibrant lights, sounds, and the wave of cars…greatexcitementtothepointofecstasy.”Itwasajourneyfraughtwithuncertaintyyetimbuedwith resilience and hope.

  

Upon his arrival in South Korea, Ahn faced the daunting task of rebuilding his life fromscratch with his family. Despite the challenges stemming from his family's direcircumstances, he gradually adjusted to school life with support from the Citizens' Alliancefor North Korean Human Rights. Encouraged by a compassionate high school art teacher andbolstered by his mother's eventual approval, Ahn ultimately embraced his artistic calling,graduatedfrom Hongik University,and now isactive as an artist.

   

Intriguingly, Ahn's artistic repertoire diverges from the expected narratives of North Koreandefectors, eschewing direct references to his homeland in favor of a more introspectiveexploration of personal freedom and identity. Initially bewildered by the exaggerated anddistinctive styles of South Korean cartoons and abstract art, Ahn explored and discovered thateven the practice of scribbling can evolve into a meaningful artistic __EXPRESSION__. From then on,his artistic evolution has reflected a journey of self-discovery and creative liberation.

  

Central to Ahn's artistic ethos is the concept of locationality, wherein the textures andmemories of his upbringing in North Korea serve as a thematic foundation for his work.Throughmediumslikecementandsymbolicmotifssuchascirclesandlight,Ahnendeavorsto encapsulate the essence of his experiences, inviting viewers to embark on a poignantjourneyof introspection and discovery.

  

As audiences immerse themselves in Ahn Chung-guk's exhibits, they are encouraged to first“use their own wings of imagination” and then contemplate the enigmatic question—Who isAhn Chung-guk? Beyond the captivating visuals lies the profound narrative of a resilientartist whose journey from North Korea to South Korea serves as a testament to the enduringpower of creativity and the human spirit.

  

The“ShapesBeyond”exhibitisongoinguntilJune28,2024,attheInter-KoreanCulturalIntegration Center in Seoul.

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AhnChung-guk: Unveilingthe Journeyof aNorth KoreanDefector and Artist
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