In the extreme politics of North Korea, we forget the street level human drama that plays out. Tragedy can inspire art, and art can empower us to action.
Kevin, the artist, watched the clandestine footage unfold. The disturbing image of a young orphan invaded his mind like a symbolic virus to remind us of the day-to-day struggle across the world that transcends political ties, social rules or cultural base.
While watching a preview for an upcoming Frontline episode, Kevin was drawn in by the story. A Japanese reporter had recruited an underground network of journalists to capture unofficial images of the living conditions in North Korea. One segment focused on homeless orphans who beg for money in a market square during the winter. One eight year old boy who was interviewed told the journalist that he was kicked out of his home by his mother because she could not support a family.
Kevin realized that we don’t know if the boy is truly an orphan, or whether this was a begging tip the boy was taught. A realization entered Kevin’s mind,
“What is really disturbing is that regardless of his circumstances, this boy will most likely be abused and could quite possibly die before he reaches his teens. This feeling of plight was reinforced by the context of the news story.”
The next day, Kevin was in a meeting at work and his mind kept wandering back to the clip of the orphan.
“I always bring a pad of paper and pen to meetings. I start to doodle in order to stay focused.“
By the end of the meeting, he realized that he had drawn the Korean orphan without consciously making the decision to do so.
Ignoring quests for ‘the truth’, Kevin helps put us in the winter market square for a moment, in the boy, in himself, in thought.
The insight and compassion we feel needs to find a way out. For Kevin the harsh reality of the Korean orphan unconsciously trickled out as art.
How does your compassion escape?
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Original Artwork: Kevin McGovern