North Korean defector artist Sun Mu

Trained as a propaganda artist in his native North Korea, Sun Mu felt that there was little else he wanted to do.

In the late 90s, during a mass famine that by some estimates killed three million people, Sun Mu made his escape by crossing the Tumen river into China, before heading south. Free from the constraints of the dictatorship, he started painting again, and eventually discovered his own style. He began producing satirical works. “My work, what I call ‘my propaganda’, does contain criticism of the regime. But it also contains a lot of my thoughts, my hopes for the future in images.”

Sun Mu still clings to hope, especially at a time when many observers are cynical about a North-South detente: “If both sides have the will, there will be a way.”

But he is critical of excessive foreign interference. “It’s a pity that several heads of state are using this reunion for their own political gains, to please their electorates… I’m just sick and tired of the US, Russia, China and Japan…”

The red paint represents the blood that these “leaders” — also the name of the painting — have on their hands.

Sun Mu ends the conversation by comparing his own country’s leadership to that of the US: “Donald Trump and Kim Jung Un are not so different. I think if they came face to face, they would actually get along.”

[France 24]

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