Peter Sukonek – Tongil Tours partner and North Korean Art and Architecture Tour tour leader
TONGIL TOURS DESTINATION HIGHLIGHT:
The National Gallery of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea–and the most important painting in the DPRK.
It’s the one art object in North Korea you do not want to miss — and yet many do not realize its significance. It is a painting entitled “Evening Glow Over Kangsǒn” (강선의 저녁노을), pictured below.
Painted in 1973 by Jŏng Yŏng-man (known as the most important North Korean painter in DPRK history) every North Korean to whom I have ever mentioned Evening Glow Over Kangsǒn knows it well and declares its importance. It is certainly a national treasure for the North Koreans.
What is interesting about the object is that it does not contain an image of one of the Kims, and yet it is still considered the most important North Korean work of art. It hangs in the National Gallery of North Korea, and is the only painting in the museum in a sealed, protective case.
It is a striking piece. A fiery red sunset covering a full one third of the picture plane forms a background against which is the bold image of a bustling steel mill–Kangsǒn Steel Works–hugging the banks of the Taedong River, just south of Pyongyang.
The mill is massive, brimming over with the brilliant glow of molten metal, mirroring the fiery sky. Its composition is hailed by North Korean art historians—and Kim Jong Il himself at one time—as highly desirable and innovative by North Korean art standards.
And you can see this painting in person when you come with us on The Art & Architecture of North Korea tour in October 2016. We will discuss not only Evening Glow Over Kangsǒn, its artistic merit, and its history in detail, but also do a deep dive into many other elements of the whole complex of arts and politics in North Korea.
You’ll also be surprised at the variety of amazing talent displayed in other art pieces when we visit Mansudae Art Studio, the national arts production and training center where it is said 4000 artists train at any given time. We’ll meet artists in person, ask them questions, and watch them work at their stations.