Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A note on the title photo

The image on the left is a minjung painting of Lee Han Yeol, who was killed by a tear gas canister during the 1987 democratic protests. Minjung stands for the masses, or the people, and the minjung movement is another name for the Korean democracy movement. Lee Han Yeol can be regarded as heroic martyrs of the democracy struggle. The picture on the right is a satirical "post-minjung" artwork that mimics the portrait on the left. It was used as a critique of neoliberal reforms undertaken during the DJ and Roh governments: governments which emerged from the democracy movement. The youth in the photos are wearing the Korean national soccer team jersey, and one has been hit in the head, ostensibly, after a night of partying. The picture seems to be saying something about how the heroic struggles of yesterday have been replaced by sports nationalism and consumer spectacle. The photo in the middle is a painting by artist Yoo Chang Chang that represents a sense of fragmentation. Here it loosely signifies the transformation of Korean society and politics from the minjung movement to the present.

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