Korean Promises

Hand-sewn tapestry, 225x145cm, organza, nylon sewing thread, acrylic tube. 2018

Made for the exhibition CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE at In De Ruimte, Ghent (BE). Translation of the text on the tapestry: We will fight the tough by being even tougher!


“Civil disobedience gone wrong…”
In January 2016 American student Otto Warmbier visited North Korea and stole a poster from the Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyang. Warmbier was arrested at the airport, just before he boarded a plane back to Beijing. In March 2016 he was sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp. In June the following year, Warmbier was released due to health issues, apparently he was in a vegetative state since the summer of 2016. Six days after arriving home in the USA he died because of his condition.

One and a half year before Warmbiers holiday to the DPRK, I travelled to North Korea myself for my video project DPRK and I also stayed at the Yanggakdo Internation Hotel. I was surprised by the cause of Warmbier, not only because of the heavy punishment for his crime, but also that he had the nerve to be a pranktser in one of the most harsh regimes and unforgiving countries on the planet. Fooling around is something that is warned upon by multiple parties before entering the DPRK, and with reason. I managed to leave the country in one piece, Otto did not… Therefore I found his case of civil disobiedience gone wrong perfectly fitting for the exhibition theme at In De Ruimte in Ghent (BE).