The Korean War was a war fought between North Korea and South Korea from 1950 to 1953. The war began on 25,June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and rebellions in South Korea. It ended with an armistice on 27 July 1953.
In the midst of a devastating war, the artists put their messages about the war on the canvas with their own colors and perspectives.
‘War painting’ with the theme of war were often produced for the purpose of boosting the morale of the military and glorifying heroes. The Korean War was a desperate issue of survival for most artists, and some painters became active as 'military painters' as a means of preserving survival in the whirlwind of war.
Among the war painters who were active in this period, South Korean painter, Sueok Lee(1918-1990) expressed the horrors of war by realistically depicting a ruined city.
For the artists at the time, the Korean War was a tragic event for both South and North Korea. In the end, everything is destroyed and everyone suffers together.
With an objective view, he expressed the ruins of a town and the common people who survived and made a living in it with a brush. After the war, war orphans worked as shoe polishes to earn a living. At an age where they were in their prime and would be supported and loved by their parents, the war prevented them from enjoying such a stable life. At a young age, they had to go out into the streets with shoe shine bags.
Below is a picture of Korean children drawn by the same artist in the 80s. Korea has rapidly restored the ruins of war and achieved remarkable growth. This picture seems to show the situation of the Koreans, who are defending their lives by playing a dangerous tug-of-war despite the threat of North Korea with a desperate desire for peace more than anyone else.
In this way, war eventually destroys everything and leaves pain and despair for those who survived. That is why there are no winners or losers in war. Witnessing these results with their own eyes, the painters feel skeptical about the cause and justification of the war. They sometimes speak their voice to the world and the government as a political voice, but in the end they have supported and appealed for peace regardless of their political colours.
In the legend, the general of the defeated army kneels on the ground and the winner looks down from the horse, but in his paintings, Justin the loser and Spinola the victor stand on equal footing. Diego Velázquez, a Spanish painter called the painter recognized by the painters and the painter of the painters, also showed the true face of a war with no winners or losers through the painting Surrender of Breda Castle.
The painting illustrates the exchange of keys that occurred three days after the capitulation between Spain and the Netherlands was signed on June 5, 1625. Hence, the focus of the painting is not on the battle itself, but rather the reconciliation.
Wouldn't it be great if war could be ended and peace could be pursued with a warm hug and a rational agreement like Velázquez's painting?
And how grateful we will be if a society that loves, understands, and accepts each other like the paintings of Marc Chagall, who dreamed of beautiful love in an era of war and ruins.
Mclver, Gillian (21 April 2016). Art History for Filmmakers: The Art of Visual Storytelling. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1472580658.
Myungja Anna Koh