Having eaten it was now time for an afternoon of culture before we had to bid farewell to Sinuiju and to North Korea.
Our first stop was the Sinuiju Art Gallery. In my review – Dining in Sinuiju – I indicated that, not having been to an Art Gallery in North Korea yet, I was intrigued as to what such a visit might entail. Well, truth be told, I wasn’t in the slightest intrigued and having just spent ten days in North Korea I knew exactly what to expect as I suspect you do too if you have read even a small selection of my North Korea reviews.
My intuition was spot on. There were no European Masters here – no Rembrandt’s, Picasso’s and not a Van Gogh to be seen anywhere. Neither were there any Chinese classical pieces and certainly none of the rich Buddhist or other religious art one finds in other art galleries around the world.
The art here was all North Korean and fell into one of two categories – Korean scenic pictures and pictures of the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung and the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il and others in the Kim Dynasty. The Kim pictures predominated and there were sufficient to fill a number of rooms.
It almost goes without saying that all the pictures related to the Kim Dynasty were celebrating the wondrous lives and feats of the Leaders. They invariably depicted the Leaders dispensing their famous ‘on the spot guidance’ and advice on every topic under the sun to a most attentive audience, be it soldiers, office workers, factory workers or farmers, attentively listening lest they miss a word.
In terms of the artwork itself, it is simple, colourful and gets the message across without any ambiguity. Here there is none of the western complexity of trying to decipher the artists mood or inner thoughts so as to understand the painting and not a piece of modern art in sight – happy days!
Attached is a sample of the art on display:
Picture 1 (above)– A well fed army guided by the Dear Leader is a happy and loyal army. This picture is a strong reminder of the ‘songun’ or ‘military first’ policy pursued by Kim Jong-il, in particular. This policy, most actively pursued after the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994, represented a slight shift from Kim Il-sung’s juche, or self-reliance policy though both are entirely compatible. See how happy soldiers in North Korea are.
Picture 2 – Here Kim Jong-il encourages a group of heavy engineering workers, doubtless to ‘rush at the speed of Chollima’ to achieve the factory’s targets for the prosperity of the Fatherland. See how happy factory workers in North Korea are.
Picture 3 – Here Kim Il-sung braves the winter snow to give guidance to peasant farmers. See how happy peasant farmers in North Korea are.
Picture 4 – Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il relaxing in paradise. See how happy the Leaders in North Korea are.
Picture 5 – A selection of the scenic pictures and the gallery shop.You don’t see how indifferent the shopkeepers were when we bought nothing.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on my trip to Sinuiju, North Korea. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Sinuiju Cultural Square (?) – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – In North Korea – On the Border with China.