As part of the Midlands Korea Season (led by New Art Exchange and Eastside Projects), in collaboration with The Real DMZ Project, New Art Exchange invited eight South Korean artists who address the reality of the division of the Korean peninsula – The persisting violence, tension and various perceptions of North Korea.

The Real DMZ: Artistic encounters through Korea's demilitarized zone was curated by Sunjung Kim and The Real DMZ Project. Given North Korea's hermetic status as a nation, works by Kyungah Ham, Onejoon Che, and Seung Woo Back question the representations of North Korea that permeate the mainstream media, and provide new, inventive possibilities of imagining the North. Envisioning the DMZ itself, Hayoun Kwon’s video is a virtual walk-through of the DMZ based on accounts from a soldier stationed there, and Soyoung Chung presents an installation inspired by the lights she saw in the dark imagining they were signals from the North whilst undertaking a residency at a village near the DMZ border. Photographic portraits of young South Korean soldiers by Heinkuhn Oh reflect the conflicting moments of violence, anxiety and absurdity, and Chan-kyong Park's new video piece reveals the vulnerable, humanistic sides of North Korea through ordinary and tender moments of the young North Korean soldier’s childhood. The exhibition also features new work by Yeondoo Jung.

The exhibition was presented at the New Art Exchange, which is a contemporary arts space in Nottingham that celebrates the region’s cultural richness and diversity. It is the largest gallery in the UK dedicated to culturally diverse contemporary visual arts.

From Autumn 2017 to Summer 2018, the Midlands Korea Season created a platform for contemporary visual arts from Korea with a focus on artists who explore common, global issues of migration, borders and displacement. Coinciding with the 2017-2018 Korea/UK season, The Real DMZ exhibition was part of the Midlands Korea Season (led by NAE and Eastside Projects), which was funded by Arts Council England and Arts Council Korea.

About The Real DMZ Project

The Real DMZ Project is a contemporary art project based on research conducted on the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) in South Korea and its border area. Having begun with a critical perspective on the ironies that surround the Demilitarized Zone, the project has extended its parameters by experimenting not only with new productions and exhibitions but also via dialogue and discussions within the field of the humanities and social sciences. In its first edition in 2012, the project was organized in the form of an exhibition held both in and out of the Civilian Control Zone in Cheorwon County. It has extended its parameters not only geographically to the Art Sonje Center in Seoul, and the establishment of a new artist residency in the former propaganda village of Yangji-ri but also by including talks, workshops, and lectures within the field of the humanities and social sciences. The long-term vision of the Real DMZ Project is to create a platform that not only supports a variety of research methods and exhibition formats, but also ensures that the results are made accessible in open archive.