Like many North Koreans, Song Byeok was brainwashed into believing Kim Jong Il loved and cared about his country. At 24, he was hired to be a propagandist, and he fulfilled his duties until it all became too much, and then he defected.
Byeok's world changed completely in the late 1990s when famine struck North Korea, killing his father, mother, and sister. He wandered alone and hungry through a country he once loved, and was later tortured by the government he once idolized. At this point, he began a journey to discover a life outside of DPRK. Byeok, now in his 40s, has devoted his life to using his artistic skills to promote freedom through satirizing Kim Jong Il and the legacy of his reign.
Byeok's works riff off the notion of the propaganda machine, inserting absurdity where seriousness once held court. These works of Popaganda reveal the strange face of tyranny by creating caricatures of Kim Jong Il's enigmatic persona, whether dressing him up in Marilyn Monroe's signature garb or simply highlighting his Napoleonic stature. After hearing the news of Kim Jong Il's death, Byeok told The Boston Globe, "He was praised like a god, but in the end, he was only a human who fell like an autumn leaf."
Byeok's upcoming exhibition will feature 20 of his works, 6 of which have never before been seen. Visit Byeok's Kickstarter page to learn more about the project. The exhibition will show at the The Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia from February 17-26.
Check out some of Byeok's fearless works below: