The Korea Creative Content Agency and Korean Cultural Centre UK have announced a celebration of the centenary of Korean comics, known as manhwa, with a host of interrelated special exhibitions, events and film screenings, starting next week.
Manhwa: A Language of Unlimited Imaginations, which opens on 21 May, celebrates manwha's 100th anniversary, a popular art form in Korea which began with the first publication of Doyoung Lee's political cartoons in the newspaper Daehanminbo, which was founded on 2nd June 1909.
As an art form, manhwa is used to comment on a wide variety of topics. It can often spotlight societal injustices. Sometimes, manhwa tells marvelous tales of dreamy romance. At other times, the art form simply uses its simplified figures and their exaggerated gestures to provide amusement and entertainment.
To this day, as with western comics, manhwa continues to evolve and hold a special place within the hearts and minds of Korean society.
The history of manhwa highlights unique traits within each distinct era of Korean history, and the exhibition throws light on how authors of each generation interacted with the public. Following its birth, manhwa had to endure Korea's tumultuous history under Japanese colonial rule, then survive the country's national liberation, the dark years of the Korean War, and through the dismal military dictatorship.
The 1980's and 90's marked the renaissance of manhwa, while new work from 2000 onwards employs digital media technology offering exhibition visitors the opportunity to interpret present-day Korean comics in a new light and, perhaps, even predict the industry's future.
Within the exhibtion are two special displays. Art Toon Art brings together the work of 12 artists, including Dong-Hwa Kim and Young-Ok Kim, whose work pushes the boundaries of conventional comic book art humorously by reinterpreting famous masterpieces. This small display is derived from the exhibition Masterpieces Meet Comics, which is held annually in Korea and is based on the theme of convergence between comics and art.
Manhwa Illustrations offers a small collection of work by famous graphic illustrators including Min-Woo Hyung and Kwang-Mook Lim, shown together for the first time.
• Manhwa 100: A Centenary of Korean Comics runs from 21 May - 24 June at the Korean Cultural Centre UK, Grand Buildings, 1 - 3 Strand, London WC2N 5BW Tel: 020 7004 2600. Web Link: http://london.korean-culture.org
• A number of tie-in events have also been scheduled: see details below.
• Meet Korean Manhwa Artist Chul-Ho Park
Wednesday 20 May 6.30-7pm
• Live Drawing Performance & Workshop with Manhwa Artist Chul-Ho Park
Thursday 21 May 2-3.30pm
Manhwa artist Chul-Ho Park leads a live drawing workshop with London based journalist and leading authority on Asian comics Paul Gravett.
• Manhwa Bang
Bang is the Korean word for room. It's a social space where you can hang out with friends and read a wide variety of Korean Manhwa.
Admission to the films is free but tickets must be booked in advance with the Korean Cultural Centre. Tel: 020 7004 2600
• Hello Schoolgirl
Thursday 21 May 6pm
Venue: Multi-Purpose Hall, Korean Cultural Centre UK
Two civil workers at the local district office find love but in distinctly different directions. Written by famous Korean comic artist Pool Kang, featuring Ji-Tae Yu (Oldboy) and K-pop singer turned actor Kang (Attack on the Pin-up Boys).
South Korea 2008 Dir. Jang-Ha Ryu (English Subtitles) 113 min
• The War of Flower
Friday 22 May 4pm
Venue: Cinema Hall, Korean Cultural Centre UK
Go-Ni loses his entire savings and the money that he stole from his sister in the high stakes card game known as "Hwatu." Go-Ni figures out shortly after the game that he was swindled and he spends the next six months tracking down the person that robbed him of his money. Starring Seung-Woo Cho, Hye-Su Kim, Yun-Shik Baek.
South Korea 2006 Dir. Dong-Hun Choi (English Subtitles) 139 min
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