[518 40th Anniversary] Vintage you haven't experienced, "oh! Hangang"
[518 40th Anniversary] Vintage you haven't experienced, "oh! Hangang"
  • By Seol Myounghwan
  • 승인 2020.05.18 14:50
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Old things called vintage
Seol Myounghwan, Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism, KOREPA Expert Adviser
Seol Myounghwan, Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism, KOREPA Expert Adviser


Vintage comes as a novelty for those who haven't lived in the era when it first appeared in the world. If it is a book, it is read in a new light to the present sentiment.

This may be the reason why the early works of cartoonist Heo Young-man were re-released. A historical cartoon "oh! Hangang" has been revived as a fifth volume in 30 years. "oh! Hangang" shocked me at the time by portraying the fight and torture scenes realistically.

There were also many interesting cartoons about anti-Communism in those days, but the "oh! Hangang" saw the gloomy era with an objective perspective. 

North Korea's man-made flag, which had been taboo under the military regime, fluttered and realistically described the process of democracy and criticism of the South's dictatorial regime. 

It would be the first ideological approach in our comic history. Maybe that's why! At that time, "oh! Hangang" was read as a must-read book by the university community.

Created by a collaboration between cartoonist Heo Young-man and writer Kim Se-young, the "oh! Hangang" has found the intersection of beauty sought by the two writers. So it is considered being a deeper 

Ironically, it was the Agency for National Security Planning (currently, the National Intelligence Service) that supported the production of the "oh! Hangang".

The Agency for National Security Planning asked the Heo Young-man cartoonist to draw an "anti-communist cartoon" and Heo said he had conditioned that he did not interfere until the series was over.

As the story entered the latter part of the series, various pressures were said to have been applied to determine whether the story was different from the Agency for National Security Planning's intentions.

"oh! Hangang" is The story of Lee Kang-to and his son Seok-ju, who lived for 42 years in the turbulent modern history of Korea from 1945 to the June 29 Declaration of 1987

Born as the son of a poor peasant in the late days of Japanese colonial rule, Lee Kang-to has an excellent talent for painting but fails to perform tricks and takes charge of emancipation.

After liberation, he, who was in the ideological conflict between communism and anti-Communism, becomes immersed in communism and moves to the North. After becoming a zealous Communist Party member, he volunteered as the People's Army to jump into the Korean War, but it was only an escapade from reality. 

Lee Kang-to, captured as a South Korean prisoner of war, finally renounces the North and is released as an anti-communist, as he undergoes several twists during his life in the camp. Unable to join South and North Korea in the ruins of the war, he is scrambling to take care of his wife and little baby and begins his life as a painter again.

The second half of "oh! Hangang" depicts the agony of the 386th generation movement, moving on to Seok-ju, the son of a college student who inherited Lee Kang-to's talent. Seok-ju's 20, something days begin with a new military coup d'etat on Dec. 12, 1979.

During the Chun Doo-hwan administration, Seok-ju, who was arrested for participating in a demonstration, was forced to join the army on that path and agonized over the reality of the military culture.

The ending came to me in a somewhat hackneyed form of anti-Communism, but throughout the course of the story, Lee Kang-to and Lee Seok-ju's eyes constantly raised the question of what the role of artists and intellectuals was.

Having dreamed of being an artist like the main character, I sympathized with Lee Kang-to a lot, so the trauma of the dark era seems to have lasted for quite a while.

Even Rhee Syngman, Park Chung-hee, and Chun Doo-hwan, who appeared in succession after the Korean War, have calmly solved the history of modern and contemporary dictatorships. 《oh! Hangang》 is the most historical cartoon in Korea.

Vintage over 30 years! "oh! Hangang" serves as an adhesive that connects fragmentary pieces of modern Korean history to young intellectuals, filling in the deficiencies they have never experienced.

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