Korean Tiger Series

This semester was literally “crazy”. I have SEVEN undergrad and grad classes to teach and took THREE ones to attend. I was asked to teach 8 classes but couldn’t really have time for it… 😦

Time flies really fast because I entered Seoul National University’s Doctor of Design program when Covid19 started in 2020, and now is only one semester left. Even though it was the busiest semester since I came back to Korea, but it’s good to keep myself busy! 🙂

So, as I wrote in this blog before, we have summer and winter breaks in a year. (two months each) The summer breaks usually started in mid-June, but I had a schedule for an exhibition from July 5th to 9th, 2021. The exhibition was an end-of-semester show for my Ph.D. program, and the title was Re-New Old. My classmates and I researched about personal interests in Korean traditions and reinterpreted them as works for a semester. I studied ‘Korean Tiger,’ especially focused on my ancestors’ paintings and folk paintings. So here’s my Korean tiger reinterpretation series and sketches.

🐅 Series Descriptions: Korea used to be the best habitat for tigers due to its mountainous nature. It has been told countless tiger stories since Dangun mythology. However, the tiger’s habitat was filled with human selfishness and cruelty, and the tiger became extinct. In this work, I recreated a tiger with magpies, hawks, and rabbits, which are meaningful in preventing and protecting bad energy. There is also simply a meaning of humor.

🐅Korean Tiger Series 01-Magpie🍃

🐅The first work features a tiger descending from the mountain with magpies and pine trees. The extinct tiger was reborn as a ‘building .’ The meaning of ‘building’ in modern Korea can be interpreted in many ways. Whether a tiger can be used for business or not, the state-of-the-art buildings with the appearance of a tiger are left to their own interpretations. In my ancestor’s ‘Tiger and Magpie’ composition, magpies seem to open their mouths and say something, but magpies are closing their mouths toward the fake tiger in this work. Pine trunks, branches, and needles were used in the background.

🐅Korean Tiger Series 02 – Falcon

🐅The second work is The Tiger and Three Hawks. In the past, my ancestors made prints of tigers and hawks to be used as a talisman. Usually, three hawks were drawn to symbolize the three disasters caused by wind, water, and fire. In this work, the tiger king of the earth and the hawk king of the sky were drawn together to enhance its meaning. Only the tiger’s face was drawn, implying its symbolism. The explosion was overloaded by the development of modern technologies. Eventually, a fake tiger with a tiger face explodes and reveals itself as a robot, spilling oil. The flowers on the upper right represent Columbine as decorative elements.

🐅Korean Tiger Series 03 – Rabbit

🐅 The third work is The Smoking Tiger and the Rabbits. There’s a lot of Korean folktales that start with ” a long, long time ago, when a tiger smokes…”. One of the tales said that tigers smoke in caves because they cannot go hunting on rainy days. Rabbits are also afraid of being eaten by tigers in the fable, but they trick and tease tigers all the time. The mural of a rabbit with a silly tiger can be interpreted humorously. In my work, a stitched sitting tiger is smoking with a gombangdae which is a Korean cigarette, and rabbits are around. The background has a pine forest. The most valuable thing about tigers is ‘leather,’ so the stitches symbolize ‘veganism’ that protects animal rights through this work.

👇Enjoy Re-New Old show below!

What is real and what is fake? In modern society, we don’t really know the truth or fake according to the development of technologies and social media. A girl and a bird whose faces have changed due to the filter effect of the face app. The tree trunks have cell phone cameras and hidden ones.

It took a semester and more days to prepare for the show, so I was on vacation mode as soon as I finished the installation! So I ran to the Lotte museum to see Kim Jung-gi’s exhibition ‘The Other Side’, which is on view until July 11th, 2021 and went to one of the famous Pyung Yang Naeng Myun restaurants in Gang Nam.

For Kim Junggi’s, I was surprised that I thought he was born in the US or studied there. However, he was ORIGINALLY from Korea and never studied in America. I really loved his early works as much as his live drawings! People said he is a drawing genius, but I believe that all the fantastic live drawing skills came from countless practices, as he spoke. 

I was glad that Lotte Museum curated a contemporary Korean artist. This can be a good start to introducing incredible local artists to people. 

I wish to have a solo show like him there one day! 🙂 

Bonus Pic – I tried Jinmee Pyungyang Naengmyun the same day! The place is nearby where I live, but I couldn’t really stop by, but finally! This restaurant was introduced by the TV show ‘Be Melodramatic’ from Jtbc, one of my favorite latest TV shows. The taste? I can’t leave Korea because of THIS!!! 🙂

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