Recently, the name Jung Young Joo has been rising to prominence very quickly in the field of art. In 2020, she gained a lot of attention from BTS ARMYs after she posted a picture of her painting at the group’s leader RM‘s house.
“BTS’s RM has bought one of my paintings, and he sent me a picture of it displayed at his house. Didn’t he take a great picture? I had a great time with such as respectful and bright young man. He gave me strength during the hard times we are having now. Let’s all fight through this and meet one another with healthy faces!
The painting that RM bought is a signature piece of the artist. Jung Young Joo is known for her paintings of old quaint Korean villages that are fast disappearing due to urbanization. Her art style is also pretty unique, using Korean rice papers or Hanji on the canvas.
But the story behind why she started painting these identical-looking old villages is far more fascinating than any other detail of her technique and accolades. Jung Young Joo was studying at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris. But when she graduated, she had to give up her dreams of becoming an artist and return to South Korea as the IMF crisis hit the country in 1998.
Once home, she toiled relentlessly for the next ten years but could not make a name for herself as an artist. At this point, she was so deep in despair that she started questioning her reason for staying alive. It was around this time that the hillside villages of her country caught her eye. She felt a sense of empathy with the run-down strictures that stood in contrast with the dazzling city buildings. At the same time, she said that it filled her with a sense of warm nostalgia.
So, she decided to start painting these poor villages and named her work ‘Daldongnae’. Though the literal translation of the name means “moon village,” it actually refers to the slums of Korea where low-income people would live ever since the Japanese rule. The people of Daldongnae belong tothe poorest tier of the economy and often get thrown out of their houses when an area expands its development to house more people.
Jung Young Joo held a solo exhibition last month at Hakgojae in Sogyeok-dong where 28 of her ‘Daldongnae’ paintings were exhibited. All of these paintings have an imaginary setting, though the artist has mentioned that she draws inspiration from the villages in her hometown Busan. The villages of Sillim-dong and Bongcheon-dong in Seoul are also some of the other places she has referenced in her work.
Though her painting is based on a subject that is so intermingled with the culture of South Korea, she has been able to overcome that boundary and touch art lovers worldwide. Last year in May, all her paintings were sold out at the Art Basel in Hong Kong, one of the largest art fairs in the world.
Now it seems even clearer why RM, another Korean artist who has managed to overcome the boundaries of language, culture, and nationalities to become a world-renowned artist, must have connected to the art of Jung Young Joo to such an extent!