Thursday, July 16 2020


Unlikely Korean megaphone for Black Lives Matter movement

Update: June, 11/2020 - 11:33


This image provided by Yerong shows a comic strip produced by the cartoonist explaining how African American George Floyd was killed by the police on May 25, 2020. The strip went viral internationally after being shared on social media on May 31. — Photo YONHAP/VNA

SEOUL — Having started in the US after the death of 46-year-old African American George Floyd caused by the Minneapolis police on May 25, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has clearly evolved into an international phenomenon, with protests having taken place in at least 40 countries -- from Britain and France to South Korea this past weekend -- in solidarity with American protestors and victims of endemic racism.

Yerong, a 28-year-old cartoonist whose real name is Ko Ye-sung, has become social media sensation after sharing a series of short comic strips since May 31, on the tragic death of Floyd and the following unrest in the US.

Yerong describes her style as "doodle comics". The strips, bare-bones minimalist in style yet substantive in exposition, have gone viral not just in South Korea but throughout the world, with overseas fans having voluntarily translated Yerong's works into eight languages, including Chinese, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Vietnamese.

"I was so enraged after hearing the news that a black person was killed by excessive force of the police. At the same time I thought to myself, 'Again?,'" reflected Yerong in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Friday on how she first began her BLM comic strips.

In South Korea, it is without question that K-pop artists, commanding legions upon legions of fans at home and abroad, have had a big influence in raising awareness and supporting the BLM cause.

Last week, K-pop giant BTS publicly supported the cause and donated, together with its label-management agency Big Hit Entertainment, US$1 million to a BLM-affiliated organisation. Other artists, Crush, Jay Park and Tiger JK, among others, also publicly backed the movement while denouncing racism and police brutality.

And while not a household name, nor a K-pop star for that matter, one individual in South Korea may deserve an equal amount, if not more, praise for raising awareness of racism, not just during the recent global BLM developments but since long before. — YONHAP

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