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Local visit - North Korea's Public Face: Twentieth-century Propaganda Posters from the Zellweger Collection

  • University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong 90 Bonham Road Hong Kong Island Hong Kong (map)

The University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, is presenting an exhibition ‘North Korea’s Public Face: Twentieth-century Propaganda Posters from the Zellweger Collection’ from November 29, 2017 to January 28, 2018. Organised in collaboration with North Korea scholar and Stanford Fellow Katharina Zellweger, this will be the first display of such material in Hong Kong. The exhibition is also supported by the North Korean and Swiss Consulates.

Stylistically influenced by communist brutalist propaganda and ideologically informed by the core work on North Korean art - Kim Jong Il’s 1992 publication Treatise on Art (Misullon) - all of these state- commissioned posters promote ‘correct’ forms of socialist realism, thereby documenting the socio-political and economic policies communicated from the Leader to the North Korean people. In so doing, daily activities are aligned with political beliefs; for example, the metaphorical configuration of rice farming with the cultivation of socialism.

Beyond their overtly ideological character, the posters confer messages related to practical agricultural, industrial and social developments, while portraying a distinctly human picture of the varied urban and rural communities. Altogether, the imagery displayed offers insights into a country that few have visited and from which first-hand information remains sporadic and inconsistent at best.

RAS has arranged a visit and tour of the exhibition with Kathi Zellweger - for RAS members and their guests. Thanks to Katharina Zellweger for her generous support.

The Speaker

Katharina Zellweger is a long-term resident of Hong Kong, where she is now managing KorAid Limited. She recently established this NGO to focus on children in institutions and people with disabilities in North Korea and in China with a view to later engage in other projects.

At the same time, she is a Visiting Fellow at the Center for International Security
and Cooperation at Stanford University in California. Prior to that she was the
Pantech Fellow in Korean Studies at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific
Research Center, in residence at Stanford University from November 2011 to August
2013. Most recently at Stanford she gave a course entitled “An Insight into North
Korea Society” for graduate and undergraduate students. She is a frequent presenter
on the topic of the situation of the North Korean people, to audiences in the U.S. and
abroad. Zellweger has also made significant contributions in this field through her participation in workshops, seminars and conferences about humanitarian, as well as security, issues on the Korean peninsula, more specifically regarding North Korea.

Zellweger is a senior aid manager with over 30 years of field experience in Hong Kong, China and North Korea. She was based in Pyongyang for five years (2006-2011) as North Korea country director for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), an office of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The focus of her work was on sustainable agricultural production in order to address food security issues, income generation to improve people’s livelihoods, and capacity development contributing to individual and institutional learning.

Before joining SDC, Zellweger worked from 1978 to 2006 for the Catholic Agency Caritas in Hong Kong in a senior post; she played a key role in pioneering Caritas involvement initiatives in China and in North Korea.

Zellweger received the Bishop Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Award in 2005 from a South Korean foundation established to promote social justice, and in 2006 the Dame of St. Gregory the Great from the Vatican for her work in North Korea.

Upon the invitation of The Korea Society of New York she organized a (still on-going) travelling exhibition of her collection of North Korean socialist posters. At the same time, she accompanies from time to time tourist groups to North and South Korea, most recently for the Tages-Anzeiger, Switzerland’s largest newspaper.

Zellweger has a Master’s degree in International Administration, School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. 

Time: assemble at 10.15 am; start time 10.30 - 11.30am

Admission: free of charge

Please email in advance to reserve your place since numbers are capped for this visit