By Lee Hana
Photos = Choi Taesoon
Seoul | April 9, 2019
Ahead of the centennial anniversary of the Korean Provisional Government on April 11, several graffiti artworks have gone up on major building facades in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square.
The graffiti-style portraits of Korean independence activists are decorated with playful text and splashes of color in a stark contrast to their black-and-white portraits seen in history books.
Created by the Korean art cooperative LAC Graffiti Studio, the pieces are part of the collection “Patriotic Martyrs of the Independence Movement” started in 2013. This display follows the hanging of several giant-size national flags around the square last month to mark March First Independence Movement Day (Samiljeol).
In a news release, the Presidential Commission for the Centennial Anniversary of the March First Independence Movement and the Korean Provisional Government said, “We prepared this outdoor exhibition to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Korean Provisional Government, as well as remind citizens of the important role of the fight for independence in forming the foundation of our country’s democracy and creating the blueprint for our politics, economy and society.”
A 100-meter wide banner on the Central Government Complex building shows ten activists in succession including Kim Gu, Yoon Bong-gil and An Jung-geun superimposed on brightly colored rectangles.
Meanwhile, the annex to the government building shows larger portraits of Kim Gyu-sik, leader of the Korean Provisional Government, teen martyr Yu Gwan-sun and activist Ahn Chang-ho. The portraits also have phrases like “La paix” (Peace) and “Long live Korean independence” uttered by these activists that have come to symbolize the movement.
In addition some 50 graffiti artworks are on display in Gwanghwamun Square, featuring lesser-known independence figures like Yeon Mi-dang, founder of a women’s revolutionary alliance, Kwon Ki-ok, the nation’s first female pilot, and Kim Ran-sa, a teacher of Yu Gwan-sun who led a movement for women’s enlightenment.