Getting a glimpse of North Korean graphic designs

Getting a glimpse of North Korean graphic designs


A special exhibition, displaying a range of
North Korean items, from postcards to cigarette packets is held in Seoul. They provide a glimpse of the graphic designs
seen around the regime. Hong Yoo turns the spotlight to this unique
collection. Stepping into the exhibition, some South Koreans
might feel a sense of nostalgia that takes the visitors all the way back to the 1960s. Blue, red, yellow, white, and black, the five
traditional colors of Korea, fill the posters that were designed in North Korea from the
1970s through to the late 2000s. Packaging for Baekdu Mountain cigarettes,
sweet fairy drops, and Taedonggang beer,…all designed with flat block color and smooth
vector graphics. Showing daily items such as stamp sheets,
post cards, comic books and packaged food, the exhibition “Made in North Korea: Graphics
from Everyday Life in the DPRK” introduces North Korean items not from a political perspective
but from the view of a foreigner. All these items were collected by Nicholas
Bonner, a British national who visited North Korea in 1993 and continued to tour the country
over a span of 25 years. “Every design these days is digitalized but
all the posters exhibited here are hand painted. That allows people to feel the beauty that
comes from the detailed posters. Also, the colors of the items and the gallery
match to make it seem like it has one whole identity.” This exhibition was first displayed earlier
this year at the House of Illustration gallery in London, attracting the highest number of
visitors for any exhibition since the gallery opened in 2014. “I came here because I was curious to find
out how North Korean designs show its people’s daily life and how they look different from
South Korea’s.” “Posters like this one, which says “Let’s
develop Goryeo medicine, our people’s heritage,” show how North Koreans value the importance
of sticking together as “one”, and how the North Korean government uses images to
try to build nation’s pride.” The exhibition is open until April 7th at
the Hongik Daehangno Art Center in Seoul. Hong Yoo, Arirang News.

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