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An exhibition of graphics in London showcases never-before-seen images of North Korean design

North Korea is a country that few have access to or understand. Now, London’s House of Illustration gallery offers a peek into their art and culture, through a showcase of North Korean propaganda posters and comics, as well as food packaging, ticket stubs and stamps.

art and culture Updated: Feb 25, 2018 10:56 IST
Reuters
North Korea,Art in North Korea,North Korean art
Labels on display at the Made in North Korea: Everyday Graphics from the DPRK exhibition in London.(Courtesy: Hannah McKay )

North Korea makes headlines with its military parades and nuclear programme, but a new London exhibition puts the spotlight on graphic design in the country. Made in North Korea: Everyday Graphics from the DPRK features highly-stylised government propaganda posters and comics, as well as more run-of-the-mill items such as food packaging, ticket stubs and stamps.

The items on display at London’s House of Illustration gallery are drawn from the collection of Nicholas Bonner, who founded a Beijing-based tour company that specialised in travel to North Korea and has visited the country hundreds of times. Bonner says the designs offer outsiders a window into a country few understand.

“We don’t understand North Korea. It’s a very complicated country. We understand elements of it but we have a very black and white viewpoint, so I think this is one of these elements to start to understand it.”

The exhibits date from the 1970s to the early 2000s, a time when designers in North Korea, largely cut off from outside influence, blended Soviet-inspired iconography with their own national aesthetic. Despite the array of imagery portraying North Korean workers as muscular, heroic figures, Bonner said it is unlikely that the exhibition’s propaganda component would win the regime any new supporters. The exhibition runs until May 13.

Check out some more graphics on display:

A visitor looks at items on display. (Courtesy: Hannah McKay )
Wrapping paper on display. (Courtesy: Hannah McKay )
Stamp sheets from North Korea. (Courtesy: Hannah McKay )
Can labels are on display. (Courtesy: Hannah McKay )
A visitor looks at comics on display. (Courtesy: Hannah McKay )
Pin badges on display. (Courtesy: Hannah McKay )
A visitor looks at stamp sheets on display. (Courtesy: Hannah McKay )
A visitor looks at items on display at the Made in North Korea: Everyday Graphics from the DPRK exhibition. (Courtesy: Hannah McKay )
Pin badges on display at the exhibition. (Courtesy: Hannah McKay )

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First Published: Feb 25, 2018 09:19 IST