The North Korean government’s harsh censorship of media outlets and strict limitations on freedom of speech to maintain totalitarian control have led to the widespread belief that the country’s art functions solely as a means for the Kim regime to promote its own messages. This paper argues that rather than being a mere apparatus to disseminate state propaganda, North Korean art in fact subverts censorship and serves an outlet for self-expression for artists in the country. In particular, it aims to explore how North Korean artists use art as a means of expression of their daily lives. While most research will be conducted through reviewing secondary sources given government regulations on accessing North Korean art from South Korea, the paper will complement these findings through interviews with scholars such as Professor BG Muhn and journalist Nicholas Bonner. In so doing, the paper hopes to broaden the understanding of postwar Korean art that has been mostly limited to the South Korean context and further burgeoning interest in various forms of artistic production in North Korea beyond the realm of fine art.
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