The Korea Herald

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Artist Kim Bo-seong cherishes each Korean consonant

By Park Yuna

Published : May 24, 2023 - 09:29

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Kim Bo-seong poses for a photo with his painting Kim Bo-seong poses for a photo with his painting "Gi-yeok" at Maru Art Center in Seoul. (Courtesy of the artist)

Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, has been a huge inspiration for the artist Kim Bo-seong, who has also published seven poetry collections. He has created a variety of artworks from paintings to installations inspired by the consonant and vowel characters of Korean.

The artist showcased his new works at the Maru Art Center in Insadong, Jongno-gu, central Seoul. There are 14 basic consonants or ‘jaeum’ in Korean, some of which were turned into paintings by Kim. Korean letters are not just a means to communicate but each consonant or vowel is a source of artistic inspiration for Kim.

“Korean is based on the combination of consonants and vowels, so we do not notice how we use each individual consonant and vowel in our daily life,” Kim told The Korea Herald on Tuesday. “We usually say Koreans have so much energy and a joyful spirit, so ‘play culture in Korea’ is also part of the things that I take inspiration from for my work.”

Many Koreans grew up playing with colored paper to make airplanes or other things in class or at home. Kim combined these colored papers from his memories and Korean consonants, which turned into paintings.

“Many foreigners are probably not very familiar with each consonant or vowel of the Korean alphabet. I hope my paintings help them become more familiar with Korean letters,” Kim said. Kim has explored hangeul for more than 35 years during his career.

Kim’s solo exhibition “Korean Characters" (translated) will run through Monday at the Maru Art Center. King Sejong the Great introduced Hangeul in 1443 to help Koreans read and write.