The Features

Mock the “Dear Leader” with Song Byeok

Song Byeok - Take Off Your Clothes - acrylic on hanji; courtesy of

When Korean contemporary artist Song Byeok exhibits his work, he uses a pseudonym. That’s because he’s actually North Korean: his satirical paintings of the “Dear Leader” could result in execution or lifelong sentences in a gulag for the relatives he’s left behind.

This weekend, “The Departure” – an exhibit of his work at The Dunes – brings that dangerous satire to DC.

North Korea selected Song to be a state propaganda artist when he was only 24. According to an interview with Reuters, Song practically worshiped Kim Jong-il at the time, although he never met the dictator during his duties. Instead, he was handed a sketch every morning of daily propaganda to paint.

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