Editorial cartoons by a popular South Korean artist are the featured exhibit at Nanaimo Arts Council gallery in August.
Gyoung-il Ko’s work will be on display at the gallery in Nanaimo North Town Centre from Aug. 1-22. An opening reception is planned for Aug. 8.
Gyoung-il Ko is an associate professor in the department of cartoon and digital contents at Sangmyung University in Seoul, South Korea.
He teaches drawing, painting and caricature animation there. He also contributes political caricature cartoons to the newspaper and publishing company Han-Kyoreh, one of most liberal daily newspapers in South Korea, and Dong-A, a weekly magazine.
Ko was born in 1968 in South Korea. In 1993 he graduated from Chungju teachers college with a teaching certificate for fine arts. At that time, however, South Korea had been ruled by dictatorial powers which created serious political tensions.
Instead of teaching, Ko began publishing political cartoons that were a stinging satire on the government and its policies.
Having become famous for cartoons that mercilessly lampooned the dictator of the day, Ko found his work more and more suppressed by the government.
In order to escape from the dictatorial government’s attempt to gag him, Ko went to Japan and attended Kyoto Seika graduate school, studying fine arts, science and the caricature process for a master’s degree in 1998.
Ko returned to South Korea and got a part-time lecturing position in a Korean universities. He also continuously released his works as a cartoonist.
In 2000, Ko became a full-time lecturer in the department of cartoon at Kyoto Seika University in Kyoto, Japan.
Ko finally started to work in the Department of Cartoon at Sangmyung University as an assistant professor in 2001.
In 2007, Ko received the Contribution to the Press award from Sang-myung University. This award is usually given to a person who brings prestige to the university by their appearance in the media.
In 2009, the International Exchange Award was given to Ko from Kyoto international Cartoon Forum because of significant contributions of facilitating the international exchange of cartoons in Korea, Japan and China. Currently Ko is publishing a 20-piece series in the Hankyoreh newspaper in Seoul.
South Korea has had rapid economic growth in the past generation, through years of military dictatorships and more recently democracy. However, individual freedoms have not always kept pace with this economic development.
Ko’s work is representative of this conflict, portraying Seoul as the city of joy and sorrow, hardship and overcoming the pain of living with the 21st century.
Korea is seemingly wearing the clothes of a modern democracy, but underneath still suffers from the remnants of colonialism, dictatorships and the Japanese Occupation.
The gallery is open Monday, Tuesday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sundays and holidays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about the exhibit please visit www.nanaimoartscouncil.ca.