A Terrible Beauty: An Artist at War, 1950


Book Reviewer

With today being June 25th - the day the Korean War broke out - I am very pleased to present a gallery of images from the first months of the war.

To the best of my (and the artist's) knowledge, these have never before been placed before an English language readership.

Kim Song-hwan (Pen name: "Gobau") is today comfortably retired as South Korea's most famed cartoonist. In 1950, he was an 18-year-old watercolour artist residing just outside Seoul when Kim Il-sung lauched his blitzkrieg. He was thus in an unique position to record the North Korean attack, occupation, and the US/UN Command counterattack, and finally, the Chinese offensive.

As a Korean civilian caught up in the midst of total war he had a much closer look at the enemy than any of his Western counterparts.

His watercolours sometimes depict scenes of gruesome brutality, but are carried off with a delicacy and sensitivity that is unavailable to the photographer.


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