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Talk on comics from North and South Korea with Paul Gravett

As part of Nick Bonner’s exhibition of everyday graphic design from North Korea, an interesting talk on North and South Korean Manhwa:

Secrets of North and South Korean Comics

A talk by leading expert Paul Gravett
19 Apr 2018, 7:00pm | Buy tickets
House of Illustration | 2 Granary Square | King’s Cross | London N1C 4BH

Korean manhwa covers
L: I Am Nine Too (North Korean comic) © Ri Chun-kil (writer), Ri Yŏng-kwang (illustrator); R: I Am A Communist (South Korean comic) © Park Kung-woong

In 1991, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il declared that the nation should ‘develop the comic-strip genre’. This official endorsement led to increased production of kurimch’aek or ‘picture books’, many in comics form and several adapted from the writings of the ‘Great Leader’, his first wife or their son and successor.

During and since the Korean War, North and South Korea have harnessed the cartoon medium for propaganda, while they also share historical folk heroes who live on in both sides of the demilitarised zone.

On the other hand, modern manhwa, or comics made in South Korea, survived censorship and public burnings to earn government support and compete directly with manga from Japan. Today, South Korea’s searing graphic novels can confront the traumas of history. Their phenomenally popular digital comics or webtoons can also give a voice to critical cartoon journalists and North Korean defectors.

Paul Gravett is the author of MANGASIA: The Definitive Guide to Asian Comics (Thames & Hudson). He will be signing copies of the book after his talk.


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