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Korean Comic Artists Break New Ground in Brussels

Korean comic artists are teaming up with their European counterparts in Brussels, Belgium forging new creative alliances in an exhibition that aims to redefine the boundaries of the comic world.

The Korean Cultural Center to Belgium and the European Union (EU) opened its annual exhibition “Pop the Bubbles, Blur the Boundaries,” Wednesday (local time).

Belgium is home to iconic comic book characters such as the Smurfs, Tintin and Lucky Luke, which not only graced the pages of newspapers and magazines but also captivated audiences through television and the Korean Cultural Center has been engaging with the medium to foster cultural connections between the two countries.

First launched in 2014, the exhibition has been bridging exchanges between Korean and Belgian comic artists. This year’s edition is expanded to feature eight artists from Belgium, Switzerland, France as well as Korea, marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and the EU. The exhibition further cements Brussels’ status as a global hub for the comic book industry through international collaboration.

In the exhibition, each artist brings their unique perspectives to the world of comics and explores the various elements of comics such as speech bubbles and square templates.

Among the Korean artists, France-based Silki delves into the themes of discrimination and prejudice in the work “Kimchi Baguette,” while Um Yoo-jin employs a new comic format called “insta-toon,” which combines elements of webtoons and Instagram, capturing the nuances of her family and daily life through simple pencil line.

Leebinsoyeon’s “Shape of Shame” is a multi-genre work that incorporates sculpture, video and installation, exploring various images of people portrayed in media through dreamy colors. Kim Yong-kwan’s “New Wave” reinterprets the concept of the square as an element of the comic medium and presents it through semi-abstract geometric patterns and puzzles.

The Korean Cultural Center to Belgium and the European Union hosts 'Pop the Bubbles, Blur the Boundaries' exhibition at the center through Dec. 29. Courtesy of Korean Cultural Center
An image from France-based Korean artist Silki’s comic book “Kimchi Baguette” / Courtesy of Korean Cultural Center

On the European side, Belgian artists Mathilde Van Gheluwe and Valentine Gallardo employ an inventive technique in “Pendant que le loup n’y est pas” (While the Wolf Is Away), which shifts drawing styles to correspond with changes in the narrator.

Martin Panchaud from Switzerland participates in the exhibition with “La Couleur des choses” (The Color of Things), this year’s winner of Fauve d’Or, the highest prize, at the Angouleme International Comics Festival. The work engages the reader’s imagination to the fullest by opting for minimalist elements like circles, dots, lines and letters, rather than detailed specifics.

French cartoonist Jeremie Moreau’s “Les pizzlys” explores the human connection to nature through digital art.

Kim Dong-eun, director of the center, highlighted that the exhibition serves as a platform to bring both Korean and European cartoon art together.

“We will continue to support the introduction of Korean cartoons not only in Belgium but across Europe,” the director said in a statement.

The exhibit is being held at the Korean Cultural Center in the heart of Brussels through Dec. 29.

The center also operates a Korean booth at the BD Comic Strip Festival, one of the largest comic-related festivals in Belgium, to introduce Korean artists.

Source: Korea Times