From Dear Leader to Marilyn Monroe, defector mocks Kim

Mon Dec 26, 2011 2:18am EST
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By Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) - Above the ballooning dress of Marilyn Monroe is the face of the late North Korean despot Kim Jong-il. A pigeon flies overhead and a feather lies nearby on the ground.

North Korean artist Song Byeok once proudly drew the "Dear Leader" in propaganda paintings. But he was sent to labor in one of the reclusive state's notorious prisons after hunger forced him to try to flee.

Now a defector living in the South Korean capital, Seoul, Song has turned to mocking a ruler who led his country into famine, isolation and economic ruin.

"The day I finished this, he passed away," Song said of his painting and the death of Kim on December 17.

"He's not an eternal creature but the same as the feather of a pigeon," said Song, using the feather to symbolize something inconsequential.

"I thought it would've been better if he made North Koreans better off and forget hunger before he died."

Kim, who was 69 when he died, was a patron of the arts in his hermit kingdom and at times went to extreme means to promote the arts.

He once kidnapped a film director and forced him to make movies for him. Kim amassed a big hoard of South Korean movies on DVD and commissioned works of art.   Continued...

<p>North Korean defector and artist Song Byeok paints next to another work of his, titled "Marilyn Monroe", which satirizes North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, at his atelier in Seoul December 23, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>