Park Seo-Bo, whose calm paintings heralded Korean art, dies at 91 | ET REALITY


Park Jaehong was born on November 15, 1931 in Yecheon, South Korea, the third of four children of Nam Kimae and Park Jaehoon. An older brother had died the year he was born.

Mr. Park’s father, a legal documents dealer, hoped his son would become a lawyer. When Jaehong won a national art competition for students, his father didn’t recognize him. But when he gained admission to the fine arts department at Seoul’s Hongik University, one of the country’s most prestigious programs, his father agreed to pay a year’s tuition.

Park survived less than a semester before the civil war broke out. He was captured by the North Korean People’s Army and put to work drawing maps and painting backdrops for a propaganda theater group. When General Douglas MacArthur arrived with American troops a few months later, Park escaped in the confusion, only to be drafted into the South Korean army shortly after. His father died around this time.

Mr. Park was released the following year. Determined to continue his education, he found his way to Seoul, where he earned money drawing improvised portraits of American servicemen. Continuing to Busan, where he had temporarily transferred to Hongik University, he re-enrolled as a Western painting student, studying with Kim Whanki and Lee Jong Woo. She slept under the eaves of a cafe when he couldn’t find a friend to stay with.

But Mr. Park was worried about being recruited again. The day before graduating, in 1955, he adopted the given name Seo-Bo, bought a fake ID and fled. He grew a beard, put on a fedora, and spent several months wandering the country before returning to Hongik, where he slept in a janitor’s room and painted in empty studios at night.

Several more years of struggling followed, during which she ran ad hoc private art schools, met and married a younger art student named Yoon Myungsook, worked her way through various styles of painting, wrote reviews, and quarreled with other artists, all while avoiding the military police. .

Leave a Comment