Where do NK artists find inspiration?

UPDATE: I have since found out that DPRK art was influenced by Russian art until 1968 when Kim Il Sung gave a speech about art having “Korean context.”  After this production of chosunhua (Korean ink painting)  increased.

ORIGINAL POST: When I visited the DPRK in 2004, one of the destinations on the itinerary was the Museum of American War Atrocities in Sinchon.  This museum is flanked by two large murals, and below I have posted a picture of the mural on the right side of the museum:

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(click for larger version)

The caption at the bottom of the mural reads “Let’s take revenge a thousand times on the US imperialist wolves.”

This painting and many others are available in the book North Korean Posters: The David Heather Colleciton by Prestel Publishers.  This weekend, however, I received a copy of Soviet Posters: The Sergio Grigorian Collection also by Prestel Publishers, and after turning only three pages I saw this image:

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(click for larger version)

This poster bears such a resemblance to the North Korean mural above that I believe it is fair to say the North Koreans “borrowed” the sentiment for their own people.  The woman’s face is nearly identical aside from the fact that she has been made Korean and her dress has been converted into a hanbok.  The face, from the nose down, and hands are identical.

The Russian poster is by Konstantin Ivanov and the caption reads “Lets avenge the people’s suffering.”  It was published in 1943, and according to Soviet Posters:

The image of the motherland, born before the war, gained momentum during the conflict (WWII).  Mothers called their soldier-sons to kill and conquer the enemy, and to free the land from the dangers of Nazism.

Can any readers from China or Russia identify any other North Korea copies?

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  • Hi,
    I love your website, and I read it every day, new posts and old. I was in the DPRK this summer, the website link is to my blog. They don’t call the Korean traditional clothing a Hanbok, they call it the Chosŏn-ot. Forgive my semantics; this is the best blog on the DPRK I have ever found by the way, I love your work!

  • Thanks for the tip.

  • It’s amazing you found this 1943 poster to identify the NK clone. I love Soviet propaganda art but have never seen this one. Indeed the resemblance is stunning. One of my postgraduate students is now writing a thesis on NK propaganda and I’ll keep you updated on any new findings.
    LP

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  • Ray Cunningham

    I have seen the same similarities in other works of propaganda art in the DPRK. This one is clearly a copy. I will pay attention from now on. 


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