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A North Korean painter who defected to the South is holding an exhibition in Seoul with his anti-communist works. He says the exhibition is his ultimate expression of being finally free from the communist state.
In North Korea, artist Song Byeok wouldn't have been able to imagine drawing "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il's head on top of the body of Marilyn Monroe.
But the painter who defected to South Korea has done just that at this exhibition.
He not only pokes fun at the reclusive leader of the communist state, but, expresses what he felt and others still feel in North Korea.
Born in Hwanghae province in the North's western coastal region, Song used to paint propaganda posters in North Korea. But at some point he started realizing life in the North was not the utopian images or the optimistic slogans he was painting.
When life became too tough, he tried to cross the border into China with his father in 2000 to get help from relatives. While crossing the river bordering China, his father was swept away by the current.
Song finally escaped the North in 2002 and started his life as an artist in the South. He studied painting at the local Hongik University.
For a long time, Song was afraid to hold an exhibition for fear his depictions of the tough life in North Korea could bring death to him or his family members who are still there.
But after his sister defected to the South several years ago with his help, his mother passed away in 2005. Song felt he could show his works without worrying about his family being punished.
[Song Byeok, North Korean Defector Painter]:
"I want to inspire people to think about North Korea, North Korean people and freedom all over again. I want people to hold each others' hands and break the wall (between the two Koreas)."
The exhibition entitled "Forever Freedom" is being held in Seoul.