KCC UK: Manhwa Exhibition

Korean Manhwa 8November has been a busy week for London Korea fans, whilst some of us spent the first half of the month sat in cinemas laughing, crying and reading subtitles, the other half was reading and watching acclaimed Korean comic book artists in action. For three weeks, the KCC hosted their coolest exhibition yet: The Colours of Korean Comics – Manhwa, Korean Story Painting 2012. We’ve always loved comic books and it’s suddenly become fashionable again. It’s all about Geek Chic now, making this exhibition fun for kids and adults alike. Featuring 47 original paintings from 19 celebrated Korean comic book artists, The Colours of Manhwa exhibition has transformed the KCC into a trendy art house. A very special feature of this exhibition is the corner of the KCC which has been transformed into an amazing Manhwabang, comic book room! Yes fanboys, stop salivating on your keyboards and get down to the KCC now, tomorrow is the last day of this funky exhibition so catch it whilst you still can! (Exhibition ends 21st November 2012)

Korean Manhwa 5This exhibition will be showcasing the works of many artists of different types of comic genres as well as bring in visiting artists in the form of: Hyung Minwoo, Lee Dooho, Seok Junghyun, Che Jungtaek and Jude Friday. Hyung Minwoo is creator of ‘The Priest’ which inspired 2011 film of the same name starring our very own Paul Bettany of Wimbledon and creepy monk killer in ‘The Davinci Code’ fame. Fun Fact: He is also the voice of Iron man’s trusted helper Jarvis. In this exhibition you’ll be able to see a video wall at the KCC featuring clips of Minwoo sketching the art from his comic ‘The Priest’. Minwoo is also responsible for one of our favourite pieces at the exhibition in the form of four baseball bats entitled ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’. Here you’ll see four baseball bats sketched with the horsemen Famine, War, Conquest and Death. We like to see these as a weapon prepared for the destruction of these horsemen, as these deadly weapons have their name on it… badumtsk…

Lee Dooho is considered the pioneer of Korean Manhwa and often refereed to as a “traditional comic artist”. Dooho has worked with a variety of genres before but has chosen to focus on Korean history and culture since 1980. In his pieces at the KCC, you’ll see people in traditional Korean outfits in period settings. His pieces feature some amazing details, especially in the vibrant colours of all the hanboks. Lee Dooho’s style is very classic and distinct and shows a different and more cultural side to Korean comics.

Korean Manhwa 6Jude Friday’s piece is featured in a little interactive corner where you can view his comic as it was intended to be viewed, online via an iPad. Jude Friday’s style is very clean and minimal and his characters differ from the usual big eyed dolly girl style we are used to in Asian comics. This exhibition also features watercolour pieces from this web cartoonist and it was really breathtaking to see all his intricate detailing up close. Each line is drawn with precision creating absolutely amazing works of art. We also love the adorable little black cat seen in both his autographs and piece.

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This exhibition features so many artists, all with such varying styles and techniques that it would be impossible to talk about all the pieces with the focus and concentration they all deserve. This exhibition displays the familiar type of comic art you would expect with the school girl in the iconic school uniform by Ha Ilkwon, as well as your usual amazingly colourful anime hair with huge eyes characters to your darker action comic styles, as seen in atmospheric grey scale comic ‘Red Fatale’ by Lee Hyunse. One modern comic style piece that we particularly liked was Kim Woojun’s ‘Under Class Hero’, his pieces are amazing, especially in his flip book style piece, we can practically see his characters come to life!

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Byun Byungjun’s pieces


Korean Manhwa 1Korean Manhwa 3Alongside these familiar modern styles, the exhibition also presented us with illustrations of a more traditional and mythical concept in the form of Kim Youngoh’s work. These pieces were so different and dramatic, the characters are fierce and accompanied by creatures seen in historical illustrations such as carp fishes. Whilst Byun Byungjun displayed more artistic watercolour pieces, the type of work you would expect to see in art galleries rather than in comics. And of course you can’t have a comic display without some bizarre quirkiness in the shape of Studio Mental Rope’s very interesting pieces ‘The Mentality Riding a Tricycle’ and mind boggling ‘Pizza Bird’. We are quite interpretative people, but even we can’t decipher what meaning this piece could possibly have!

We were really sad to hear that this exhibition was only on for 3 weeks. After the all consuming London Korean Film Festival, we had very little time left to enjoy this free Manhwabang. The last day of this exhibition is tomorrow 21st November, so if you have some free time, head down to the KCC before 5pm to check out the selection of Manhwa on offer. The Manhwabang corner contains comics in both Korean and English, even some in German!!! We had a lot of fun checking out all the comics, we spotted popular characters from Dooly, to the Priest, to some more interesting characters such as Boy Princess. We could spend hours in there just browsing.

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This exhibition sounds like the most popular one yet, as there were also special events organised to give people a chance to see some of the Korean comic creators in action as they took part in live drawing sessions and even drew members of the audience and offer autographs to the fans. London’s most fashionable book store Foyles also hosted a panel discussion session where the five visiting Korean Artists along with five British Artists took part. The five Korean artists were also generous enough to have 100 free copies of their work to give away to the audience along with with postcards of original artwork from Korean illustrators sold for charity.

We hope that this exhibition will return to the KCC soon as it’s been one thats definitely got a lot of kids taking an interesting in Korean culture too. All the colourful illustrations have also really brightened the Korean Cultural Centre during this dreary weather we are experiencing. If you missed the chance to see these original works from the 19 artists, make sure you check out our Facebook album!


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