If you've seen 21 Jump Street, you probably know about the Korean Jesus meme. But that's not just some internet thing. There is a Korean Jesus. And starting this month, you can see him on display in Seoul.
As noted by Up News, this is the work of Korean artist Woonbo Kim Ki-chang. According to The Korea Times (via tipster Sang), the artist began his series of "sacred" ink paintings during the Korean War after a missionary's suggestion. Like artists in Europe, he used his country for the Biblical backdrop. Think of this as more of a "what if," than presuming that Jesus was actually Korean or lived in Korea. The result is fascinating and beautiful.
"I was praying for the quick end of the Korean War and a unified peace, and soothed my painful mind with a paintbrush," said the late Kim, who passed away in 2001. He spent about a year completing the 30 paintings.
A few years back, a Korean Jesus paintings that were apparently photographed at a seminary were uploaded online in China. (Note that apparently these were not painted by Woonbo Kim Ki-chang, but by a different artist.)
According to Searchina, the images caused some people online to fly off the handle, and they called the paintings "shameless." (Though, according to Chinese media, there apparently was a university professor in Seoul who said Jesus had Korean blood lineage, so there's that.) Others online in China pointed out that the Virgin Mary was also "localized" for the Chinese, so this kind of thing is normal. Heck, Westerners have been doing this for well over a thousand years. Cooler heads also explained that this was simply art—that it isn't saying Jesus was hanging around the Asian country.
Hey, Korean Jesus doesn't have time for your problems, internet commenters.
Woonbo Kim Ki-chang's Christ paintings will be on exhibit at the Seoul Museum until January 19.
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