Artist Moon Soon expresses value of sharing through her life
Artist Moon Soon expresses value of sharing through her life
  • Lee Ha-kyung
  • 승인 2013.10.20 19:12
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Four works by Moon Soon ('83, Korean Painting) are hanging on the wall. Photo by Chung Yun-jo.
A Buddhist monk goes to an exhibition to buy a painting of Jesus staring back. People ask her why a Buddhist monk would buy a painting of Jesus. The monk answers, “Those eyes, it seems like he understands every sorrow in people.” This work that has influenced so many people, regardless of their religious backgrounds, is a painting of Jesus by Moon Soon (’83, Korean Painting).
Moon expresses messages from God through her ink-and-wash paintings. Ink-and-wash painting, also known as literati painting, is a type of brush painting that utilizes black paint in various concentrations. Although a great majority of her paintings consist of black and white, people say that her paintings are strong and that each stroke of black has an intense message that talks to the audience.
A devout Christian, Moon aims to express Jesus as a familiar figure that people can easily visualize. Her pure approach to painting Jesus has led her to become an unrivaled figure in ink-and-wash painting.
“Painting that picture of Jesus was possible after a long and intense prayer,” Moon said. “I finished this painting at dawn, praying with all my heart that the painting will convey Jesus’ message of giving to people.”
Moon’s focus on giving to others led her to foster an interest in helping those who are cold and hungry, and convincing others to do so as well. Painting tragic situations of miserable people was a way of atonement for Moon. Moreover, she developed a vague dream of helping the needy in a more practical way, while consistently helping people with donations through fundraising. All the while, Moon had always sympathized with North Korean children who were neglected by their country. Then, a life-turning visit from a representative of Good Mission Network, an organization focusing on providing help and doing missionary work in North Korea, gave her a chance to get involved in helping them.
“I was painting in my studio when the representative of the Good Mission Network came,” Moon said. “He told me that he was touched by the paintings I had done of North Korean children in former exhibitions and invited me to join an upcoming visit to the North with the Good Mission Network.”
In that moment, Moon instantly felt that it would be a great opportunity to actually make a difference in North Korean people’s lives. She was one step closer to her dream of giving practical help to North Korean children by establishing an orphanage in North Korea.
“The representative told me that approximately 500 million won was needed to accomplish what I had in mind,” Moon said. “I suggested opening an exhibition to raise that amount and with the exhibition ending successfully, I made that dream come true.”
Through the Good Mission Network, Moon visited North Korea, only to find tragedy and terror prevalent all over the land. The scene was shocking enough for Moon to devote her life to helping North Korean children from that moment on.
“I used to donate and participate in volunteering work wherever I felt I was needed,” Moon said. “Needless to say, after visiting North Korea, the children I saw became my first priority to give a hand to.”
As an extension of helping North Korean children, Moon established Corea Coffee School in Korea in 2006, with the hope to financially aid North Korean children. Corea Coffee School, situated in Gwanak-gu, is the first official institute to instruct students the basics of coffee and prepare them to obtain a barista license. She made this choice after realizing that selling her paintings could give only limited help in regards to providing food and shelter.
“All of the profits gained through the Corea Coffee School are sent to North Korea in order to provide the children with food,” Moon said. “I make sure that all my donations are used as food for them to survive.”
For the future, Moon has a goal of someday establishing an orphanage in Yongcheon someday, where many children died due to a train explosion. Hearing of this incident, which occurred at the same time she had an exhibition of her work dealing with North Korean children during the 2004 Seoul Arts Festival, Moon says an innate sense of compassion laid this dream for her.
As Yongcheon is located far from the borderline between the two Koreas, Moon is aware that it will take many orphanages starting from Pyeongyang to reach Yongcheon. Nevertheless, Moon believes that she can make her goal come true once again by establishing orphanages one by one.
“I know that many people do not have positive feelings about North Korea, and most people seem to be waiting for North Korea to collapse from within,” Moon said. “However, I believe that the two Koreas and their people are a family no matter what, and that we should help them as much as possible.”

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