Breaking Stereotypes with Kim Hyun Jung

South Korean artist Kim Hyun Jung subverts conventional perceptions of traditional Korean women wearing a Han Bok by painting her portraits with a more modern day and honest approach.

Koreans have particular stereotypical expectations when it comes to women wearing traditional clothes. In old Korean paintings, those wearing traditional Han Bok are generally seated calmly, drinking tea and admiring wonderful mountain landscapes.

“Han Bok are Korean traditional clothes that are worn in the formal situation. People do not wear it in our everyday life anymore. So through the contrast of wearing classical clothes and behaving ordinarily and naturally, I can effectively deliver the sense of subject ‘coyness’. The contrast between ‘formality’ and ‘daily life’ become a medium to be compared with ‘coyness’ which is the contract of human’s inside and outside.”

Kim depicts various postures and Han Bok in flowing lines and gently colors them with Indian ink. She goes even further to challenge the traditional perception of Han Bok by revealing the body silhouette under the Han Bok skirt.

Called the idol in the world of Korean painting, the artist Kim Hyun Jung unquestionably has seized people’s interest by presenting a fresh new point of view. The secret behind her success is not only related to her techniques and style, but to her personal yet common stories in and outside the artworks that the young generation can connect with.

The modern day woman is worried about money, marriage, status, but also the success of her own career, physical appearances, and new insecurities heightened by social media. “I think Instagram is a platform where people demonstrate their bluff. If they post 20 pictures taken during a process of doing something on their blogs, the one best picture is uploaded on Instagram, only showing the best part of the process,” said Kim.